Cambodia: Prisons Potential COVID-19 Epicenters

Reduce Overcrowding by Releasing Low-Risk and Vulnerable Prisoners.

The Cambodian government should take urgent measures to reduce the risk that the country’s severely overcrowded prisons will suffer COVID-19 outbreaks, Human Rights Watch said today.

Reducing overcrowding in prisons is important to prevent outbreaks, which would have serious health consequences for prisoners, prison staff, and the broader public. Cambodian authorities should immediately release people who should not be in custody, including pretrial detainees held for minor offenses, and political prisoners. The authorities should consider alternatives to detention for prisoners with underlying health conditions, older prisoners, and women who are pregnant or incarcerated with small children.

“Cambodia’s seriously overcrowded prisons are COVID-19 disaster zones waiting to happen,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Cambodia should speedily release prisoners at greater risk if infected, as well as those detained for minor offenses, and take urgent steps to ensure prisoners get adequate medical care.”

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