The national committee tasked with reviewing pardon and sentence reduction requests for prisoners will hold a meeting in March to examine the possibility of granting such requests for the upcoming New Year and Visak Bochea Day.

Ministry of Justice secretary of state Kim Santepheap told The Post on January 10 that the committee had already received requests from the capital and provinces, though he did not have the figures to hand.

He said that at present ministry officials were managing the work and the committee would review and evaluate each case.

Nuth Savana, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Prisons (GDP), told The Post on February 10 that the requests were not made by the GDP alone, but with participation from the municipal and provincial authorities to the ministerial level.

He said the number of pardons and sentence reductions varied each year, depending on the commission’s findings and the merit of each request.

He added that the justice ministry provided guidelines as to what kinds of crimes should be included, as well as other factors, such as age or chronic illness.

“According to the old sub-decree, prepared under the People’s Republic of Cambodia, New Year pardons were not issued, but a royal degree of 2021 has included it,” he said.

Each prison has prepared a list of potential names and has its own evaluation commission that reports its recommendations to the provincial and national committees,” Savana added.

Tam Vey, director of Kampong Thom Provincial Prison, told The Post on February 10 that his prison had already prepared its potential pardon or sentence reduction list for the New Year and Visak Bochea.

“We sent our list to the GDP, who has forwarded it to the national pardon committee,” he said.

According to the royal decree of 2021, commissions to request commutation of sentences or pardons for prisoners are held five times a year: Victory Day, Khmer New Year, Visak Bochea, Independence Day and the Water Festival.

The royal decree states that the pardons or sentence reductions can only be applied to prisoners who actively seek to rehabilitate themselves.