The holding cell at the Kompong Chhnang provincial police headquarters reeks of human waste and poses a hazard to detainees, a rights worker said Tuesday.
Those arrested are held for 48 hours and are not escorted to outdoor toilets, instead having to relieve themselves inside the cell, Adhoc provincial coordinator Soum Chan Kea said.
“I detected a very bad smell when I was standing near the detention room in the police station. It smells of urine and feces because the suspects detained temporarily have to [urinate] and defecate in it,” he said of the 3-by-2.5-meter holding cell, which has one window.
“I am very concerned for the arrested persons’ health since they…are mistreated and made to sleep in a place with urine and feces,” he added.
Chhum Bun Thoeun, provincial serious crime police chief, conceded that conditions in the cell were unsanitary. But he blamed Australia, which helped renovate the police station, for failing to put toilets inside the cell.
“It’s very smelly. We have no toilet and bathroom for them inside the detention room,” he said.
“If one suspect is detained in it, it’s no problem and it can be cleaned. But some days there are 10 people…so the guards can’t take them out of the room to the toilet,” Chhum Bun Thoeun said.
Detainees are not escorted to outdoor toilets because this increases the risk that they will escape, he added.
“They are not taken out during their temporary detention,” he said. “When they need to urinate and defecate, guards give them a small jar.”
An Australian Embassy spokesperson said that between 1997 and 1998, AusAID had provided “limited assistance” in renovations at the police compound.
“This only included renovations to the existing buildings, including the toilet block that was already located outside of the holding cells,” the spokesperson wrote in an e-mail.
(Additional reporting by Douglas Gillison.)