This must surely rank as one of the biggest porkies ever told by a government department. In a letter to refugees detained on Nauru and published by the Guardian, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection says

The opportunity to settle in Cambodia is now available to you. The first flight from Nauru to Cambodia for refugees will be as soon as 20 April 2015. Moving to Cambodia provides an opportunity for you and your family to start a new life in a safe country, free from persecution and violence, and build your future…

Cambodia is a diverse country with multiple nationalities, cultures and religions. They enjoy all the freedoms of a democratic society including freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

Cambodia is a safe country, where police maintain law and order. It does not have problems with violent crime or stray dogs….

[Healthcare in Cambodia] is of a good quality for the region, with many doctors and hospitals that treat both Cambodians and foreigners

And the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection is not much better. Surely he must have been gagging when he recently said

I welcome Cambodia’s leadership on this vital regional issue and their commitment to finalise settlement arrangements as soon as possible. In particular, I recognise Cambodia’s progression within a single generation from a devastating civil war, through the rebuilding and reconstruction of their society, to a member of the international community taking a leadership position in protecting the vulnerable.
Peter Dutton, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Dept Immigration website Mar 2015

This is what Human Rights Watch, the CIA world factbook, and the Australian governments own smart raveller website have to say:

Instead of devoting his time as prime minister to equitably improving the health, education, and standard of living of the Cambodian people, [Prime Minister] Hun Sen has been linked to a wide range of serious human rights violations: extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, summary trials, censorship, bans on assembly and association, and a national network of spies and informers intended to frighten and intimidate the public into submission.
Human Rights Watch, 30 Years of Hun Sen, 2015

Health and medical services in Cambodia are generally of a very poor quality and very limited in the services they can provide. Outside Phnom Penh there are almost no medical facilities equipped to deal with medical emergencies.
Australian Government Smartraveller website

Cambodia, nevertheless, remains one of the poorest countries in Asia and long-term economic development remains a daunting challenge, inhibited by endemic corruption, limited educational opportunities, high income inequality, and poor job prospects. Approximately 4 million people live on less than $1.25 per day, and 37% of Cambodian children under the age of 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition. More than 50% of the population is less than 25 years old. The population lacks education and productive skills, particularly in the impoverished countryside, which also lacks basic infrastructure.
CIA World Factbook

I want to be charitable but it’s difficult to believe the department and the Minister are being anything other than wilfully misleading.


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