The chief of the Ratanakkiri Provincial Prison, who was accused in 2015 of paying an inmate for sex and under whose watch five inmates escaped the prison in May, was promoted yesterday to a position at the Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Prisons.
Chan Kimseng, director of the Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Prisons, announced Tin Sovanny’s new role as deputy director of prison guards during a meeting at the Ratanakkiri Provincial Hall.
Ouk Kemchun, director of the education department at the Ratanakkiri Provincial Prison, was promoted to replace Sovanny, said Sorn Keo, spokesman for the Prisons Department.
Keo maintained the move was unrelated to the scandal. “We made the replacement with the intention of strengthening the effectiveness of the work, and exchanging experience,” he said.
On May 25, five inmates escaped from the prison, three of whom remain at large. Kyal Pa Ngarng, the chief of guards at the prison, was arrested late last month, and charged with helping the five inmates escape.
Ngarng is detained in Stung Treng Provincial Prison awaiting trial, and faces up to 10 years in jail.
In December 2015, a four-page complaint was signed by 32 of Sovanny’s staffers at the Ratanakkiri prison calling for his removal.
The accusations against Sovanny in the complaint ranged from using the prison for his own benefit by charging prisoners for electricity, using inmates as cleaners and even paying a female inmate for sex.
An investigation by the Prisons Department concluded that some of the complaints were justified, but there was not enough evidence to support others, and Sovanny kept his job.
San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said it was time for the government to stop rewarding officials accused of wrongdoing with promotions.
“The promotion is not much appreciated and valued by the public,” he said.
“It’s a kind of failure [in] reform . . . He doesn’t deserve a promotion.”
Meanwhile, Sovan Bunthai, a coordinator for Adhoc in Ratanakkiri, said the transfer opens an opportunity for the new prison director to bring change.
“I hope that the next one will not follow the [same] path,” he said. Additional reporting by Yesenia Amaro