Cambodia and Australia have reiterated their commitment to comply with a refugee agreement they signed in September despite criticism from human rights groups and opposition parties of the two countries.
The commitment was made during a meeting between Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Australian counterpart Tony Abbott on the sidelines of the 25th ASEAN Summit in Myanmar on Wednesday.
"The two leaders agreed to fully implement the agreement on sending refugees from Australia to Cambodia, basing on a voluntary principle," Kao Kim Hourn, minister attached to Prime Minister Hun Sen, told a press conference at the midnight of Thursday while returning from Myanmar with Hun Sen.
He said Cambodia is a signatory to the 1951 Refugees Convention and 1967 Protocol related to Refugees, so it is an international obligation for Cambodia to take in asylum seekers.
The two countries inked the refugee deal on Sept. 26, under which Australia will send refugees, who intend to seek asylum in Australia and are being held in an offshore detention camp in the Pacific nation of Nauru, to resettle in Cambodia.
The deal has drawn criticism from human rights groups and opposition parties in both countries. They claimed Cambodia is too poor to take in Australia's refugees and accused Australia of shirking its human rights responsibilities to poorer and under- resourced nations.
According to Kao Kim Hourn, the two prime ministers also agreed to exchange their visits at a convenient time in the future.