Officials from the Ministry of Justice decided to reduce sentences for 35 prisoners yesterday while rejecting all 39 requests for pardon.
The Justice Ministry approves requests for clemency for prisoners three times a year: during Water Festival, Khmer New Year and the upcoming Visak Bochea celebrations. The King issues the official commutations.
Of the 274 prisoners who were initially considered, 39 had requested pardons and 235 had requested reduced prison terms, according to ministry spokesman Kim Santepheap.
He also said details about the prisoners were withheld from officials, who granted clemency based on merit.
“Prisoners who demonstrated that they changed their behaviour we considered; there is no need to be attached to an organisation or a political party. We do not know what political party they support – we do not check into this condition,” he said.
He added that the committee considered the number and nature of the crimes the offender had committed. “We decided not to give any pardons for prisoners, and only reduced sentences for 35 prisoners, including three women,” he said.
But the practice has been criticised for being subject to bribes and political influence.
“Cambodian people have seen clearly there is discrimination in the implementation of this law recently. We call for the committee that reviews pardons for prisoners to become neutral and just . . . People who commit crimes will not learn their lesson if they have money to appease the committee,” said Sam Chankea, a spokesman for human rights group Adhoc.