The UN Center for Human Rights has provided jailed opposition party member Cheam Channy with a television set, which is also being used by the former Khmer Rouge chief of S-21 prison Duch, as well as other military prison inmates, prison and UN officials said.
“We visit Cheam Channy regularly and on the most recent visit we gave it,” said Margo Pickens, coordinator of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, on Monday. A mango tree sapling was also given to the former opposition lawmaker, she said.
Cheam Channy was imprisoned on Feb 3, 2005, and sentenced to seven years in prison in August after being found guilty of forming a so-called illegal armed force.
Military Prosecution Department Deputy Director Kim Huon said the television has been placed in an exercise area where Cheam Channy, Duch, whose real name is Kang Kek Ieu, and the prison guards can all use it.
“They can watch it all together,” he said.
Prison Guard Lieutenant Colonel Un Sophal said Cheam Channy can watch th television between 8 am and 9 am, and between 2 pm and 4 pm.
Pickens said that she was not aware that Duch, who is expected to face a UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal once funding is secured, was using the television.
Kim Huon said newspapers and radios are not permitted for Cheam Channy, who lost his seat in the National Assembly after his conviction.
Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay welcomed the donation of the television, saying it will partly relieve the great stress that he said Cheam Channy is under.
“This is kind of an emotional relief, and he will also receive news,” Son Chhay said. He said watching television rather than listening to the radio should help calm the prisoner.
“Radio would provide good news and bad news, but television has more good news,” he said.
Son Chhay on Sunday released an open letter urging the government to ask King Norodom Sihamoni to grant Cheam Channy a pardon to coincide with the anniversary of his arrest, which falls on Friday.
(Additional reporting by Erik Wasson)