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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Pardons plummet as new policy takes effect

Seven pardoned prisoners who had their young children living with them in Prey Sar prison leave the prison grounds last year.
Seven pardoned prisoners who had their young children living with them in Prey Sar prison leave the prison grounds last year. Vireak Mai

Pardons plummet as new policy takes effect

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s call last December for the Justice Ministry to be more discerning in who it issues pardons to appears to have been heeded.

The Justice Ministry recommended the prime minister pass on the names of just three prisoners to the King for pardoning, along with 77 to receive reduced sentences, according to ministry spokesman Kim Santepheap.

A similar amnesty last year for Khmer New Year saw 70 recommended for release and hundreds to be given reduced sentences.

“The position of the National Committee [of Pardons and Reduced Sentencing] under the leadership of His Excellency the minister of justice will become even stricter,” Santepheap said yesterday. “Pardons and reduced sentences cannot be handed out without care.

“It has to be in line with how rehabilitated they are and whether they pose a danger to society once out of prison.”

The three prisoners who were recommended for full pardons were within months of completing their sentences and had not been convicted of serious offences, Santepheap added.

“This time we didn’t give consideration to some crimes, such as drug offences, robbery and theft,” said Santepheap.

“We also consider the victims. If they are someone’s child, a woman, or a father, then we cannot issue a pardon.”

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