Guards at Phnom Penh’s T3 prison hung banners in front of the jail Tuesday morning, protesting the imminent move to a new prison on the city’s outskirts.
Prison staff said they are refusing to move to the city’s new prison 20km away at Prey Sa commune in Dangkao district until compensation of $3,000 each is paid.
T3 Police Officer Dul Thoeun said children of prison staff will be forced to change schools and spouses that run small businesses near the prison will have to close. Also prison officers who have a second job in Phnom Penh likely will lose the jobs, he said.
“We appeal to the Prime Minister Hun Sen to pity and help us. The people who work here are very poor and we will not be able to find extra work to earn money [in Prey Sa],” said Dul Thoeun.
According to prison staff, banners demanding $3,000 each for the 86 prison staff members were hung from fences at the front of T3 prison early Tuesday morning.
But the banners were eventually removed on the orders of Prison Director Kuy Bunsorn.
Kuy Bunsorn confirmed the protest took place but declined to comment.
In addition, more than 30 families of prison staff currently live in the T3 prison compound and it is unsure what arrangements will be made for them in Prey Sa prison, said one prison officer.
“We will wait two or three days more. If the government does not have a solution we will strike again but bigger than before,” the prison police officer said. “We will burn tires. We cannot leave T3 prison and go to the new place with empty hands.”
Sokimex, one of Cambodia’s largest petroleum companies, struck a deal with the government to build the new prison in southwest Phnom Penh in exchange for the T3 property.
Construction was completed last month on the new prison at Prey Sa, Sokimex deputy director Sorn Sokna said Tuesday.
Sorn Sokna said the issue of compensation for T3 prison staff is the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior.
“The [Interior] Ministry should consider this issue. Our obligation [to the prison agreement] is completed already,” he said.
Prach Chan, the Interior Ministry’s director-general of the Administration Department, said Tuesday a meeting will held to solve the problem.
Bulldozers will move in and demolish T3 prison as soon as all inmates and staff are transferred to the new prison, Sorn Sokna said.
The original building at T3 is more than 100 years old.
Sokimex is considering plans to build a private hospital on the T3 site with Thai and Japanese partners, he said.