Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday defended his right to request pardons for pregnant women and mothers yesterday, while simultaneously announcing that at least 40 such people would be freed from prisons before either International Women’s Day on March 8 or Khmer New Year on April 14.
“The legitimate power is in my hand, so, groups of critics, don’t accuse me of violations. I know about the law,” Hun Sen said yesterday. “According to the law on prisons, the premier has the right to request to the King to deliver pardons.”
The premier first floated the idea of the pardons last Monday at a National Council for Women conference.
Hun Sen also cited a study by the rights group Licadho, which found that for children born to incarcerated mothers, “early life behind bars can have devastating physical and psychological consequences”.
“This is a pilot implementation to [make it] clear that children are not growing up inside prisons, and pregnant women do not deliver babies in prison,” he said yesterday.
Opposition spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday that his party endorsed the measures for “humanitarian reasons”.