Group Puts Focus on Children Behind Bars

Ahead of International Children’s Day, which falls on Sunday, rights group Licadho on Friday highlighted the ongoing issue of juvenile prisoners and children incarcerated with their mothers around the country.

In a statement, it noted 280 juveniles imprisoned at the 18 prisons it monitors around the country, “a more than 50-percent drop in the juvenile prison population since 2011.”

“In addition there were 13 pregnant women and 40 children living with their incarcerated mothers,” Licadho said.

Despite the drop in the number of juvenile prisoners, however, Licadho said it remains concerned for their predicaments and said the recently passed Law on Children in Conflict with the Law needs to be implemented as soon as possible.

“Testimony received by Licadho demonstrates the urgency of implementing the provisions of this new law without delay. Currently, juveniles in detention are subject to the same abuse as adults and are just as likely to be treated according to their financial status rather than their age,” Licadho said.

As for the presence of children or babies in prison, “detailed assessments never take place in Cambodia and alternatives to life inside prison for children are rarely considered,” it said

Kuy Bunsorn, director-general of the Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Prisons, said there has been a drop in the number of children incarcerated with their mothers, which is something the authorities “don’t want to see.”

He said there are only 12 children under the age of 6 living with their mothers behind bars.

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