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A prison guard last year stands in front of Pailin Provincial Prison, which was previously a theatre. Pailin’s new prison is experiencing a shortage of clean water.
A prison guard last year stands in front of Pailin Provincial Prison, which was previously a theatre. Pailin’s new prison is experiencing a shortage of clean water. Joe Freeman

Taps still dry at Pailin prison

A new provincial prison in Pailin’s Sala Krao district still has no running water supply six months after it accepted more than 100 prisoners, local officials say.

The prisoners arrived in early March after being transferred from their former prison – an old movie theatre in Pailin town – which suffered from overcrowding.

Seak Puth, head of vocational training at the Pailin Provincial Prison, said the new prison’s only source of water is a small pond that prisoners are now using to grow some vegetables thanks to rains this week.

“Our prison has not been connected with a clean water system yet,” he said.

“The water we are using right now is pumped from the small pond on the prison campus and we use it for bathing and washing.

Water for drinking and cooking is sponsored by an NGO.”

Nov Thoeung, the prison’s director, said a piping system had already been completed and that the prison was waiting to be connected to a water source.

A planned vocational training centre has also not come to fruition, Thoeung added.

“Because the new location is so big, we have a plan to build a vocational training centre so the prisoners can use those skills to earn a living when they have already undergone their punishment,” he said.

“But we do not have enough money for this yet.”

Besides dormitories for the prisoners, the prison has a guard building, library, chicken coop and vegetable garden, but no running water.

Thoeung appealed to the Ministry of Interior, regional authorities and NGOs for donations to finish the vocational centre and, more pressingly, to bring clean water to the prison

When asked why the prison was still unconnected, Huy Hoeun, deputy director of the ministry’s General Prison Department, yesterday blamed Pailin’s remoteness, and said that funds for the prison were currently limited and that the ministry needed to wait until next year for a response to an additional budget request.

“The new Pailin prison was built at the same time as the Oddar Meanchey Provincial Prison, so the infrastructure is inadequate [due to the lack of budget], but we built it based on the national budget package and resources offered by development partners and national and international NGOs,” he said.

The new prison has 103 prisoners, including 15 women, serving jail terms for drug trafficking, drug consumption, gang rape, theft and violence.

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