UPDATE: Cambodia: Foreign Marriage Ban Lifted
The organisation has the stated aim of protecting Cambodian overseas migrants, especially women marrying foreigners, Ky Sina, president of APP, was quoted as saying in the December 30 statement.
"The duty of the association is to help people applying for passports and visas to do this legally. Any foreigner who wants to marry a Cambodian woman will have to become a member of APP," said the statement, without clarifying whether membership fees would be charged.
Preventing spousal abuse
APP will also act as a mediator "to facilitate [dialogue] and find lawyers for both husband and wife" if they have problems later in the marriage.
Koy Koung, an undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that currently, the burden of responsibility for preventing abusive foreign marriages falls on his ministry and the Ministry of Interior, which together carry out background checks on foreigners to establish whether they have a criminal record. The new organisation will take on this responsibility, he said.
"We have received the sub-decree [setting up APP] already. We are only waiting for the Ministry of Interior to finalise some details," said Ten Borany, deputy director of the anti-human trafficking department of the Ministry of Interior.
Ten Borany said the government has recently cracked down on marriage-brokering companies, rescinding their licences, as they suspected them of facilitating human trafficking by arranging exploitative marriages. By centralising and streamlining the procedures for legalising a Cambodian-foreigner marriage, the APP will help prevent human trafficking, he said.
In April, the government said that while no systematic exploitation was uncovered in brokering companies then operating in the Kingdom, several cases of abuse did raise a red flag - prompting the marriage suspension, You Ay, a secretary of state with the Women's Affairs Ministry told AFP at the time.
"All people have a right to marry who they want, despite any differences in nationality, because in the law we cannot allow discrimination against different nationals," said Ly Vichuta, director of local NGO Legal Support for Children and Women.
Ly Vichuta said while some foreigners marrying Cambodians went through the correct channels to legalise their unions, others did not bother and used fake or dubious documents to obtain a visa for their spouses.
"Instances of domestic violence or sexual abuse are harder to identify and assist if the marriage was not legally registered," she said.
She said that the new organisation will make it easier to help Cambodians whose foreign marriages run into difficulties, as they will all have been married legally and documented through the PPA.
Thuy Sophorn, who has been trying to marry her Malaysian boyfriend for over a year, said that she was delighted the law on foreign marriage had been clarified.
"The new law to allow foreign marriage is very good, and it can protect us from being cheated in marriage. I hope it will protect Cambodian women," she said.
By: Chhay Channyda and May Tiththara
06 January 2009
Cambodia: Foreign Marriage Ban Lifted
28/11/2008: A ban on marriages between Cambodians and foreigners aimed at curbing human trafficking has been lifted, officials said Wednesday, adding that new regulations will seek to prevent internet websites from featuring mail-order Cambodian brides. (Phnom Penh Post)
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