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NGO brings libraries to prisons

Prisoners nationwide will be given the chance to boost their literacy levels, with French NGO SIPAR signing an memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Interior yesterday to operate libraries in prisons.

SIPAR director Hok Sithik said the MoU covered a three-year project from January this year to build libraries in every Cambodian prison.

The US$500,000 project would be funded by the Europ-ean Union, Hok Sithik said.

“We decided to operate the libraries in prisons because some prisoners who are detained are youths, and we want to give them a chance to study in prison so they can integrate with the community when they are released,” he said.  

Previously, SIPAR had established libraries in prisons in four provinces, including Battambang and Siem Reap, and the Prey Sar correction centres, Hok Sithik said.

Prison guards would also be trained by SIPAR to double as librarians, he added.

Nuth Sa An, ministry of interior secretary of state, said the project would allow prisoners to improve their knowledge while detained.

“It is a good opportunity for prisoners; if they are interested to read a book, they can come to read in the library or they can borrow to read in their cell,” he said.

Licadho senior investigator Am Sam Ath, who works with prisons in 13 provinces, welcomed the initiative but highlighted the need for prison officers to consider how to schedule time for prisoners to read and research.

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