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Prison personnel attend a forum hosted by the International Red Cross in Koh Kong province earlier this week. ICRC
Prison personnel attend a forum hosted by the International Red Cross in Koh Kong province earlier this week. ICRC

Int’l Red Cross, Kheng discuss prison prakas

A long-awaited prakas that would set minimum construction standards for Cambodia’s perpetually overcrowded prisons, along with a host of other reforms, was discussed on Tuesday at a meeting between Interior Minister Sar Kheng and officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Bart Vermeiren, head of the ICRC mission in Cambodia, yesterday said the prakas addressed issues including a minimum amount of space for detainees in their cells, a guaranteed amount of water per prisoner and increased access to health care, among other issues.

The prakas also stipulates cooperation across the ministries of land management, education and labour.

“We are advocating very close cooperation with the Ministry of Health,” Vermeiren said.

The meeting with ministry officials comes three weeks after the ICRC jointly organised a training seminar with prison directors from across the nation to discuss educational and vocational training for inmates.

“They’re not leaving any better off than when they came in,” ICRC detention team leader Elijah Penner said, explaining that the lack of vocational training creates a vicious cycle of perpetual incarceration and overcrowding.

Wan Hea-Lee of the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, while agreeing overcrowding and vocational training were pressing concerns, also urged accompanying judicial reform.

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