Co-Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Wednesday instructed prison directors to improve the living conditions of inmates and to respect their human rights.
However, Sar Kheng was less supportive about a recommendation boosting the amount spent on each inmate from 1000 to 1500 riel a day.
“I don’t mind [the increase] but we will have to discuss [it] with the Ministry of Finance,” Sar Kheng said to more than 200 police officers, human rights workers and lawyers attending a two-day annual meeting of the Ministry of Interior. “Policemen’s salaries are still too low. How can we have [expenses] for prisoners increasing?”
Prum Sokha, Interior Ministry secretary of state, said 500 riel a day is spent on each inmate for food and an additional 500 riel is spent on water, electricity and transportation.
Increasing that by 500 riel may satisfy human rights organizations pushing for improvements in the area, he said.
The UN has been one of the groups that have criticized prison conditions, and the Cambodia Criminal Justice Assistance Project has worked with the Interior Ministry for more than two years in designing a national prison health system.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, at the opening of the two-day annual meeting, co-Minister of Interior You Hockry focused on crimes committed by foreigners.
He said that future crime will be prevented if the 120 foreign criminals currently languishing in Cambodian prisons are extradited immediately after release.
“We need this measure to shift the load off Cambodian society…After we release them we cannot allow them to continue staying in Cambodia where they will commit more crimes.”