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Bill Seeks to Ban Corrupt Cambodians from Entering US

The US Congress will request the State Department to deny visas to corrupt Cambodian officials, especially those named in a recent Global Witness report, and will ask for a report on the number of Montagnard asylum seekers in Cambodia, according to an annual bill waiting to become law.

The annual Foreign Operations bill sets out funding for the State Department and other international agencies.

The bill is currently under discussion between members of both houses of US Congress before it will be sent to the president to be signed into law.

The Senate's version of the bill includes a suggestion to the State Department that it restrict corrupt Cambodian officials from entering the US.

Those named in this year's Global Witness report, "Cambodia's Family Trees," should be prohibited entrance, according to a Senate report from the committee in charge of money appropriation.

The Global Witness report, which was banned in Cambodia, accuses a number of top officials with links to Prime Minister Hun Sen and his family of abetting the destruction of Cambodia's forests.

The Senate Appropriations Committee also requested a report from the Secretary of State on the number of Montagnard refugees in Cambodia.

Cambodia has seen a steady influx of Vietnamese hill tribe refugees seeking asylum, and the Senate committee requested a report on them by March 1, 2008.

The committee sought to allocate $57 million in assistance for Cambodia, including $15 million in an economic support fund.

It urged the administration of the president to make clear its support for democracy and human rights.