Seven people were deported from the US to Cambodia on Wednesday under a much-maligned repatriation deal, bringing the total to 15 deportations so far this month.
“Seven Cambodian citizens were repatriated to Cambodia [on Wednesday] by the US Department of Homeland Security,” US Embassy spokesman Jay Raman confirmed.
Eight other Cambodian citizens were flown into the Kingdom on May 3.
The deportations have persisted despite efforts, in both Cambodia and abroad, to end the practice of repatriating former convicts, which some argue is a form of double jeopardy that can tear families apart.
Since the controversial deal was inked in 2002, the Kingdom has received more than 550 Cambodian citizens, many of them refugees in the US, who had been convicted of felonies and had served their jail terms.
Kem Villa, director of the Returnee Integration Support Center, said three people in the latest cohort were being sponsored by his group, while others were seeking out relatives.
“It’s like a new world for them … when they first arrive, they’re trying to cope with the new situation,” he said.