Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cambodian-born US felons sent back to Cambodia

Source: America's Felons Deported to Cambodia, written in 2003 by Richard S. Ehrlich.

I actually met one of these "Returnees". He was a weird one. This Cambodian man said to me the first time we met in Phnom Penh that he never dates "Asian chicks", only white women. He had a short-lived marriage to a Finnish woman with whom he had a child. In the end the woman left and went home to Finland with the baby.

"One of the weirdest cases occurred when a Cambodian man was busted in Houston, Texas for urinating in public, which was interpreted as a sex crime similar to exhibitionism — taboo especially because children might see it. [By the way, urinating in public is a commonplace activity here in Cambodia].

Five years into a six-year parole for the crime, cops caught him again pissing in the street. Urinating in public was not a major crime, but his breaking a law while on parole was a felony.

So he was deported to Cambodia despite being a construction site supervisor in Houston.

At least 67 felons are currently in Phnom Penh and other Cambodian cities, including many who display street gang tattoos, baggy pants, colored bandanas and sweatshirts common in America but curiously freaky in Southeast Asia...

The felons from America are now either peacefully blending into Cambodia's traditional, Buddhist-majority society or establishing themselves as the newest, roughest gang in town.

Many find shelter at RAP, the Returnee Assistance Project recently set up by Bill Herod, 58, an American who has spent many years in Cambodia working on projects designed to mend this country's social wounds....

"There are 67 returnees in-country now and about 1,400 to come. We expect the U.S. to send 12 to 15 people a month for the next 10 years," Mr. Herod said.

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