A national commission has approved and sent a list of 542 inmates to King Norodom Sihamoni after reviewing requests for pardons and sentence reduction from 23 prisons and four correctional centres for the upcoming Khmer New Year holiday.
The approval came during an evaluation meeting chaired by Minister of Justice Koeut Rith on March 31, with Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutors and officials from relevant institutions in attendance, according to the justice ministry.
Among the 542 inmates, 68 of them women, 70 were eligible for pardons and 472 for sentence reductions.
The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Prisons spokesman Nuth Savana said most of the clemency requests were for inmates who had committed misdemeanours.
“The justice minister clearly understands cases relating to misdemeanours, especially those involving minors,” he said.
Savana said most of them have changed their behaviour, and most correctional centres have also provided them with vocational training such as hairdressing, motorcycle repairs, electronics, construction and agriculture work.
“When we receive a royal decree, we have to work according to administrative procedure. The prosecutors will announce the decree to inmates before releasing them,” he said.
The justice ministry said last week that sentence reductions and pardons are granted on humanitarian grounds for inmates who have severe illness, pregnant women or those with a child living with them in detention. Inmates who are mentally ill and elderly inmates are also eligible for the requests. Consideration is given for inmates who have served at least one-third of their sentence.
Am Sam Ath, deputy director for rights group Licadho, said that in recent years sentence reductions and pardons have had fewer irregularities compared to the past years after Prime Minister Hun Sen told the commission to ensure a more stringent process.