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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UN representatives call for investigation into prison death

UN representatives call for investigation into prison death

The family of Heng Touch maintains that the 24-year-old was fatally

beaten by prison guards while detained on charges he stole a chicken


Principle 34 of the United Nations' Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment of 1988 requires the death of an imprisoned person during detention to be investigated by a "judicial or other authority".

UN representatives have urged the government to conduct a full investigation into the death of a 24-year-old man who died last week as a result of head injuries sustained while he was detained at Prey Sar prison.

The victim's family says that prison officials savagely beat  their son, Heng Touch, leading to his death.

"We have written to the Ministry of Interior to recommend a credible investigation," said Christophe Peschoux, director  of the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for  Human Rights.

"A death in prison is a very serious issue that should be treated with professionalism and humanity by prison authorities, especially when there are allegations of ill-treatment," he told the Post via email Wednesday.

Heng Touch was imprisoned in September on charges of robbery.

Torture an ‘exaggeration'  

Mong Kim Heng, director of Prey Sar prison, denied that prison officials tortured Heng Touch, calling the allegations "an exaggeration".

"I deny every allegation that Heng Touch was tortured by prison officials. It is an exaggeration and an allegation without a proper legal basis," he told the Post Wednesday.

"His death was caused by him attempting to commit suicide by hitting his head on a wall. We sent him to the hospital to try to save his life, but he died there," he said.

An Sam Ath, a monitoring supervisor for the rights group Licadho, said that they were preparing to meet with government officials over the matter.

I deny every allegation that heng touch was tortured by prison officials.

"Licadho, Adhoc and the UN are meeting to urge the Ministry of Interior and Department of Prisons to find out the real cause of Heng Touch's death," he said.
"We don't know yet the real reason of Heng Touch's death. If we find out his death was caused by torture, we will ask the authorities to penalise the perpetrators," he added.

Heng Touch's uncle, Chheng Ka, told the Post that denials  by prison officials were not credible.

"I don't believe prison officials who have said that my nephew tried to commit suicide by hitting his head on the wall," he said.

"I will lodge complaints to several  institutions, including ... Prime Minister Hun Sen to inform him about the torture that led to my nephew's death."

Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak declined to comment on the matter Wednesday. 



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