Ever since the March 23 mass jailbreak in which 17 inmates were killed by guards, officials at Kompong Cham province’s CC3 prison have refused to allow human rights workers to interview inmates, according to a researcher for rights group Licadho.
While CC3 authorities still allow rights workers on the premises to monitor the prison, they are restricted from questioning prisoners, said Bou Virak, who monitors the prison for Licadho.
“It is not like in the past. In the past, everything we wanted to know or if we wanted to interview prisoners, we could do it freely,” Bou Virak said Tuesday.
He added that before the jailbreak he was granted full access to the prison facilities.
Now, nearly two months since the incident, Bou Virak said his investigation into the events of March 23 remains inconclusive.
At the time, officials reported that guards opened fire on the inmates as they held four prison officials hostage in attempt to escape.
Two hostages, including CC3 Chief Sun Bunna, died and a third hostage, Huy Tork, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s prison department, was wounded, they reported.
A day later, guards said they buried all 17 inmates killed in the incident. Reporters and rights workers were prevented from verifying the death toll.
Chhin Ny, deputy director of the Ministry of Interior’s Prison Department, acknowledged on Tuesday that access to the prison is temporarily restricted.
“We did not allow the monitoring of local human rights [workers] for a period of time, because our prison director was killed by the prisoners, and we have not yet appointed a new director,” he said.
He added that the prison department will allow rights groups to resume normal monitoring activities once a new director is appointed.
Kea Sovann, the acting director of CC3, however, denied Tuesday that the prison was preventing rights workers from interviewing inmates.
He said the prison is only asking that they receive visitors’ permits from the Ministry of Interior.