To reduce overcrowding in Banteay Meanchey Provincial Prison, which houses double its capacity, officials transferred another 10 inmates on Monday, but the prison’s chief acknowledged that was far from enough to fix the problem.
The 10 inmates moved to Phnom Bak Drug Treatment Center in Serei Saophoan City and joined 28 inmates transferred last month, acting prison chief Thean Chhorvoan said yesterday.
The provincial prison is designed to hold a maximum of 500 prisoners, yet 1,088, including 490 pretrial detainees, now fill the prison, he said.
“To solve the overcrowding issue, 50 percent of inmates would have to be relocated,” he said. “Although the inmate figures have dramatically increased, this issue is still manageable and controllable.”
Additionally, a list of 50 convicts with a maximum of two years left on their sentences has been submitted to the General Department of Prisons for transfer to Pursat’s Correctional Center 4, he said.
General Department of Prisons Director General Kuy Bunsorn said the problem of overcrowding was nationwide.
“Prisoners nationwide are facing similar situations, so I don’t think we can transfer further prisoners in Banteay Meanchey province to other prisons,” he said.
According to the prisons department website, the country’s 22 prisons and four correctional centers as of April 25 held 15,001 prisoners, with 9,607 inmates convicted of crimes. More than 700 are under the age of 18, while 572 inmates are foreigners.
Soum Chankea, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, welcomed the transfers but said they fall short.
“To transfer prisoners is also a contribution for resolving overcrowding issues, but it helps just for a short period of time,” he said. The justice system needs to release on bail more prisoners held on minor crimes to relieve the strain on prisons, he said.
Provincial deputy prosecutor Tan Seithak Dechak said he was reviewing bail procedures, but declined to say whether he would consider releasing more prisoners on bail to reduce overcrowding.