Overcrowding Highlights Need To Renovate Country’s Prisons

Prisons throughout Cambodia are in dire need of renovations, officials said Thursday, citing the recent relocation of inmates from three facilities in Preah Vihear, Siem Reap and Banteay Mean­chey provinces because of poor building conditions.

Human rights workers also ex­pressed concerns that the majority of the nation’s 24 prisons are crumbling and overcrowded, which creates an unsafe living environment and a high risk of jailbreaks.

Prisons in Ratanakkiri, Stung Treng, Mondolkiri, Kompong Thom, Takeo and Kratie provinces are the facilities in most dire need of renovations, said San Ny, deputy director of operations for the In­terior Ministry’s general department of prisons.

“These prisons are in priority stage for renovation,” he said, “And His Excellency [Heng Hak, director-general of prisons] is trying to his best to renovate prisons as much as possible.”

Svay Thy, acting chief of Li­cadho’s administration office and a former prison research supervisor for the human rights organization, said overcrowding is a severe prob­lem in the country’s prisons.

Detention cells that used to hold 100 prisoners now sometimes hold double that number, he said, and as a result, renovations and construction on additional prison cells must start immediately.

“We have noticed the renovation of dilapidated prisons and the new construction of detention buildings in the prisons is moving slowly,” he added.

San Ny, however, said that progress is being made.

Construction is scheduled to begin this month on a new prison facility on more than 1,000 hec­tares of Pursat province land, he said. And renovations on the prison in Preah Vihear—formerly the country’s worst-off prison—were completed this year. In addition, new prison buildings in Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey province are 80 percent complete, he said.

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