Close to 10,000 prisoners will be freed as part of the country’s anti-prison overcrowding campaign, Minister of Interior Sar Kheng announced on Wednesday.
The bulk of the inmates have mostly served their sentences and will continue to be monitored by local authorities after their release to prevent repeat offences, he said.
The minister made his comments on Wednesday during an annual meeting of the National Committee for Counter Trafficking (NCCT).
He said the government had been working to tackle overcrowding in prisons, which has aroused concerns on human rights issues and puts a heavy burden on the state to spend huge sums of money to support inmates.
He said sub-national level authorities across the Kingdom will be tasked with monitoring the nearly 10,000 inmates after their release.
“This campaign is very important and I believe this is possible. Those who are incarcerated or convicted for misdemeanours and have nearly completed their sentences are almost certainly able to be released, except for criminal cases,” Sar Kheng said.
He said the government is also looking for other ways to rehabilitate the prisoners to ensure they are going to be good citizens after being released from prison.
Minister of Justice Koeut Rith told The Post that all prisoners are held accountable for their crimes, but that does not necessarily mean they are sentenced to life in prison.
He said once the prisoners had completed their sentence, they can get out of prison, but the important thing is to change their behaviour to become good citizens in society.
“We have started this [campaign], but not many convicts have been released yet,” he said.
Rith said pardoning convicts to avoid overcrowding in prison is allowed by law if the offences are minor. If inmates behave well, he said they could leave prison early.