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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Prison death leads to directive to clean cells, educate inmates

Prison death leads to directive to clean cells, educate inmates

091228_04
Prisoners sit in the courtyard of Prey Sar prison.

THE Ministry of Interior is warning prison officials throughout the country to take extra care of inmates after one prisoner died and 20 others fell ill because of poor sanitation in Kandal province’s Takhmao Prison, officials said.

“We have cautioned prisons throughout the country to take extra care of inmates’ health,” Heng Hak, director general of the Interior Ministry’s Department of Prisons, said Sunday.

“We have instructed officials to clean prisoners’ rooms and educate inmates on how to take care of their health.”

The warning comes after a 16-year-old inmate at Takhmao Prison died last week in what some officials speculated may have been an outbreak of cholera. The cause of death has yet to be confirmed, but officials acknowledge it was likely related to the use of unclean water and poor sanitation.

Rights groups and UN observers have raised concerns over prison conditions in Cambodia, noting severe overcrowding and unsanitary conditions stemming from shortages in funding.

Kong Chhun Ly, director of Kandal’s Chey Chumneas Hospital, which works to educate prisoners and prison staff on hygiene, said sickness in prisons is not generally a serious problem.

“Some inmates get serious diarrhoea because they use unclean water and poor sanitation around their sleeping areas,” he said.

“That’s why we have to come here to teach them how to clean and about body hygiene.”

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