Fri, May 02, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Cambodia panned over its policy on foreign marriages

A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTThe TransAsia Sisters Association Taiwan said that Cambodia’s decision to no longer certify marriages to foreigners was a rights abuse

By Loa Lok-Sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

TransAsia Sisters Association Taiwan (TASAT), an organization for immigrant spouses from Southeast Asian countries, is worried that a recent suspension in Cambodia of marriages between Cambodians and foreigners may make life worse for Cambodian women already married to Taiwanese and living in Taiwan.

A press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday said the Cambodian government decided last month to stop issuing marriage certificates to Cambodian nationals who marry foreigners.

“The government has temporarily suspended all [paperwork] for Cambodian women marrying foreigners,” You Ay, secretary of state with Cambodia’s Women’s Affairs Ministry, was quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald as saying last month.

“This suspension is to prevent human trafficking through marriage,” she said. “Cambodia is working to strengthen its laws on marriage.”

After the ban was announced, “a union between a [Taiwanese] national and a Cambodian will no longer be issued a marriage certificate, which makes it impossible to proceed with the process of registering the marriage in Taiwan and granting the Cambodian spouse residency,” the ministry’s statement said.

TASAT condemned the Cambodian government over its decision.

“Marriage is one of a person’s fundamental rights and the Cambodian government is taking that right away from its citizens,” said Chen Hsueh-hui (陳雪彗), a department director at the organization.

Chen also expressed concern that such a suspension may make it worse for Cambodian women who are already married to Taiwanese and living here.

“The Cambodian government is very hostile toward Cambodian women who are married to foreigners,” she said.

The Cambodian government has been refusing to issue certificates for people renouncing Cambodian citizenship, which are required if Cambodians wish to obtain Taiwanese citizenship.

To resolve the problem, the ministry has made an exception by lifting the requirement for a certificate for Cambodians married to Taiwanese.

“With the new ban, we’re worried that it will become another barrier for Cambodian women who are married to Taiwanese but have yet to be naturalized and obtain [Taiwanese] citizenship,” Chen said.

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