Lawyers Prevented From Seeing Protest Detainees at CC3

Lawyers and human rights workers were prevented from entering Kompong Cham province’s Correctional Center 3 (CC3) prison on Thursday when they attempted to meet with some of the 23 protesters, union leaders and garment workers detained last week after protests were lethally suppressed by government forces.

Security at the notorious and remote CC3 prison, which is located near the Vietnamese border, has also been ramped up in recent days, bolstered by the deployment of about 50 soldiers to the facility, lawyers and staff from rights group Adhoc said.

“We are not permitted to meet our clients,” said Muth Piseth, a lawyer hired to defend 10 of the detained strikers who were rounded up by military police at the Canadia Industrial Park in Pur Senchey district’s Veng Sreng Street.

The 10 have been charged with perpetrating intentional violence and causing damage.

Ms. Piseth said a checkpoint has been established about 200 meters from the prison entrance, which is where rights workers and lawyers must present letters stating their mission before being granted clearance to approach the jail.

“The prison officials claimed there were too many lawyers and rights workers inside the prison, so they couldn’t allow us and some of the relatives of the pretrial detainees to meet them,” she said.

Some lawyers and staff of rights group Licadho and the Community Legal Education Center (CLEC) were permitted to enter the jail, but were unable to meet with all of the detainees.

Licadho technical supervisor Am Sam Ath said two Licadho lawyers met five of their nine clients, while the CLEC lawyers met only three.

Long Vuthy, an advocacy and conflict resolution officer for IDEA, an association that represents informal workers, particularly motorcycle taxi and tuk-tuk drivers, said the soldiers deployed at the prison appeared tense and confrontational.

“Security has been so tightened,” he said. “All relatives, friends and defense lawyers should have been allowed to meet, but the prison officials refused.”

Kuy Bunsorn, director-general of the general prisons department at the Ministry of Interior, maintained that there were no prohibitions with regard to visits at CC3.

“Nobody is prohibited from visiting the detained prisoners,” he said.“But some brought a long tail [entourage], so we could not allow them all.”

“Their health conditions are fine, no lives are harmed and we have provided them medical treatment,” he said of the 23 prisoners.

Mr. Bunsorn, who had refused to reveal the location of the prisoners earlier this week, defending their pretrial incarceration at a maximum security prison by equating their treatment to prisoners under French colonial rule.

During the French protectorate, Mr. Bunsorn said, prisoners were jailed on the penal colony island of Koh Tralach [Poulo Condor] in the South China Sea “where nobody could reach them or see them.”

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