Gov’t rights chief questions US after visa request delay

Source : Phnom Penh Post

The head of the government’s human rights body Keo Remy has questioned America’s attitude to human rights after experiencing a delay in his request for a visa. Heng Chivoan

The head of the government’s human rights body, Keo Remy, has questioned the US’ attitude to human rights after its embassy in Phnom Penh delayed his request for a visa to visit family members who are citizens of the country, while he himself grew up there.

The president of corruption NGO Transparency International, Preap Kol, also questioned why a Cambodian government official holding a diplomatic passport should face a delay, while a political analyst on Sunday suggested it could be over a personal issue or due to Remy being blacklisted.

Late last year, the US State Department announced visa restrictions against the Kingdom’s officials “involved in undermining democracy in Cambodia”.

This followed the Supreme Court-dissolution of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) and the arrest of its former president Kem Sokha, alleged restrictions on civil society and a “suppression of independent media”.

Remy, the president of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC), said on his Facebook page on Thursday that he had requested a visa from the US Embassy to visit one of his children who lives in that country, but it had been delayed.

“I requested a visa from the US [embassy]. In the past, I got one whenever I requested it. But it is strange, now they have delayed it three weeks already – offer or not. It has been about 10 days already and I have heard nothing.”

“[If it’s delayed] only two days more, even if the US offers the visa, I will not be able to go [on my trip] because I am very busy. Where are the human rights?” he wrote.

Keo Remy said his family moved to the US in 1979, while in 1998 the US offered him citizenship. He said he did not accept the offer as he never wanted US citizenship or intended to return to live in that country.

Kol said he, as an ordinary person holding a normal passport, has been offered visas, while Remy as a government official holds a diplomatic passport.

“I am just an ordinary person and not a [government] official. I hold a normal passport on which the letters on the cover have faded away.”

However, when I request a three-day visa, the US offers me one for three months.

“Once I asked for a visa to the EU and the EU offered me a two-year visa.​ Why does the US do such a thing to a Cambodian official holding a diplomatic passport? Why do you this, Americans?” Kol asked.

On Saturday night, Remy again took to Facebook, saying all his family members hold US citizenship apart from him because he had no intention to live there.

Analyst Meas Nee said no one could be sure of the factors in Remy’s case, but he said that it might be to do with either personal or political issues.

“It might be a personal case or that he has been put on the US blacklist, we do not know,” he said.

US Embassy spokesperson Emily Zeeburg declined to comment on the case when contacted by The Post on Sunday.

 

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