As the details of two more prison deaths came to light yesterday, human rights workers and a court official said authorities at Kompong Cham Provincial Prison had not yet begun an inquiry into the deaths of five detainees in as many days early this month.
Kuy Bunsorn, deputy director-general of the Interior Ministry’s prison department, said yesterday he did not have enough information to begin an investigation into the deaths.
“I have not got the report yet—how can I conduct an investigation?” he said.
Adding to the tally of the prison’s fatalities this month, Chor Teip and Sim Ny died on July 3 and July 17 respectively while serving time at the prison, according to deputy provincial prosecutor Moung Sarin. The Interior Ministry has already issued death certificates for the five other prisoners, who all died during a five-day period from July 7 to July 11.
Mr Sarin said prison officials informed him of the additional deaths yesterday.
“It is the issue of overcrowding,” he said.
Chan Soveth, chief monitor at the human rights group Adhoc, said his group would investigate the prison deaths. He urged officials to clarify the causes of death.
“The check should be done on the body to find out if the cause of death was a contagious disease, an overcrowding problem or a fight in the prison,” he said.
Cheng Sophors, senior monitor at the human rights group Licadho, said his organization believed the deaths had occurred as a result of overcrowding, and called on officials to take better care of their charges.
“The prison director should pay more attention to the prisoner’s health. Sending them to hospital on time and providing sufficient medicine should help,” he said.
On Monday, Licadho released a report claiming the Kompong Cham Provincial Prison was filled to more than 160 percent of its capacity, and that the number of detainees in Cambodia was growing faster than the amount of available prison space.