Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia to soon establish juvenile prison: Social Affairs

Cambodia to soon establish juvenile prison: Social Affairs

Youths in Siem Reap Provincial Prison undergo vocational skills training organised by This Life Cambodia.
Youths in Siem Reap Provincial Prison undergo vocational skills training organised by This Life Cambodia. Photo supplied

Cambodia to soon establish juvenile prison: Social Affairs

A sub-decree establishing Cambodia’s first juvenile prison will be issued by the start of September, Minister of Social Affairs Vong Soth told United Nations Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith on Wednesday.

Observers said such a facility is long overdue, with young people aged 14 to 18 still being incarcerated in Cambodian prisons alongside adults.

“Based on this sub-decree [due] by the end of this month, or the beginning of next month, we will have a centre – or we can say a jail – to put the children who abuse or [behave] contrary to the law,” Soth said, adding that the centre would have capacity for 700 to 1,000 underage inmates.

Smith, who has a special interest in child rights, said 482 children remain incarcerated at Prey Sar’s Correctional Centre 2 in Phnom Penh and noted “it’s not so many more that this new facility will accommodate”.

“It’s very important to focus on the rehabilitation of young people so they can return to the community, and also to consider diversion activities so that people perhaps can serve their sentence in the community,” she said.

She also urged the government to only detain children “when absolutely necessary” and ensure they receive a good education, as well as vocational training, such as air conditioning or motorbike repair, both of which are currently on offer in Prey Sar with assistance from NGO This Life Cambodia (TLC).

Rachel Watkins, TLC’s Children and Families Section lead, said that incarcerating children alongside adults “leaves an already vulnerable group open and exposed to potential exploitation and abuse”.

TLC hoped that multiple centres dedicated to child offenders would be established across the country, not just one in the capital, but they were awaiting clearer details in the forthcoming sub-decree.

Watkins said it was important for child offenders in the provinces to maintain contact with their families or rebuild severed ties, which could reduce the rate of recidivism, but there was a lack of clarity on how those rights were ensured.

“Such ambiguity thus leaves us highly concerned about the reality of how the youth rehabilitation centre(s) would operate in practice and whether they may serve to further (intentionally or otherwise) isolate and disconnect disenfranchised youth from their families, communities and society at large,” she wrote in an email.

Reached yesterday, Ministry of Social Affairs spokesman Touch Channy said an inter-ministerial meeting about the juvenile prison had taken place on Tuesday and the sub-decree had already been sent to the Council of Ministers, but he declined to comment further.

Additional reporting by Mech Dara and Kong Meta

RECOMMENDED STORIES

  • Breaking: PM says prominent human rights NGO ‘must close’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has instructed the Interior Ministry to investigate the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) and potentially close it “because they follow foreigners”, appearing to link the rights group to the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party's purported “revolution”. The CNRP - the

  • Rainsy and Sokha ‘would already be dead’: PM

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday appeared to suggest he would have assassinated opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha had he known they were promising to “organise a new government” in the aftermath of the disputed 2013 national elections. In a clip from his speech

  • Massive ceremony at Angkor Wat will show ‘Cambodia not in anarchy’: PM

    Government officials, thousands of monks and Prime Minister Hun Sen himself will hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the Kingdom’s continuing “peace, independence and political stability”, a spectacle observers said was designed to disguise the deterioration of

  • PM tells workers CNRP is to blame for any sanctions

    In a speech to workers yesterday, Prime Minister Hun Sen pinned the blame for any damage inflicted on Cambodia’s garment industry by potential economic sanctions squarely on the opposition party. “You must remember clearly that if the purchase orders are reduced, it is all