Prey Speu Detention Center Should Be Shuttered for Good

The Prey Speu “Social Affairs” center has made headlines again, following the decision by Phnom Penh City Hall to keep the detention facility open despite Prime Minister Hun Sen’s support for its closure, “Officials Keep Prey Speu Open After PM’s Rebuke” (June 3).

Back in 2007, Licadho was approached by relatives of two young children who had been sent to Prey Speu. They asked us for help in securing the release of the 11- and 14-year-old boys from an overcrowded room within which homeless people, sex workers, beggars and drug users had been arbitrarily detained, held in inhuman conditions on no legal grounds.

—Letter to the Editor—

That turned out to be the first of many, many cases to come.

In late 2008, following Licadho’s documentation of torture and deaths within the walls of Prey Speu, authorities temporarily suspended the center’s activities. However, illegal detention and abuse resumed within a year—despite claims that the center had been “reformed.” Since then, authorities have recycled this empty claim to justify keeping the center open. Yet the latest documented deaths occurred as recently as October 2015.

The reforming of Prey Speu and other similar centers are a myth, and its existence remains a threat to the most vulnerable.

Licadho urges the authorities to face the realities of Prey Speu and to put an end to more than a decade of systematic and unlawful detention and torture by shutting the facility once and for all.

Naly Pilorge

Director, Licadho

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