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Government grants clemency to 34 prisoners for Buddhist holiday

Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana speaks at a meeting on prisoner pardons in October. This week, for Visak Bochea, 33 prisoners received sentence reductions, and one received a pardon.
Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana speaks at a meeting on prisoner pardons in October. This week, for Visak Bochea, 33 prisoners received sentence reductions, and one received a pardon. Heng Chivoan

Government grants clemency to 34 prisoners for Buddhist holiday

Thirty-four prisoners have been granted clemency ahead of the Visak Bochea Day holiday, out of more than 200 who sought royal pardons.

Just one prisoner received an outright pardon, while the other 33 had 12, nine or six months shaved off their sentences. Some 228 people in Cambodia’s overcrowded prison system had requested pardons ahead of the holiday, which marks the Buddha’s birth, death and enlightenment.

“Generally, the ones who get pardons or reduced sentences committed a minor crime and not a serious crime,” said Justice Ministry spokesman Chhin Malin. “There were no serious crimes like robbery, murder or rape, but minor ones such as stealing, snatching or breach of trust.”

Fellow Justice Ministry spokesman Kim Santepheap said among those who received reduced sentences was one woman, but did not disclose if she was pregnant or had a young child in prison.

A report by The Post last week highlighted the drastic increase of young children behind bars amid Cambodia’s fraught drug crackdown, despite a number of pardons for pregnant women and women with young children in 2015.

The amnesties come on the heels of 50 prisoners being granted clemency ahead of Khmer New Year. Of those, eight received a full pardon.

Prime Minister Hun Sen recently vowed no pardons would be issued to members of the now-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party ahead of the national election on July 29, telling the Kingdom’s political prisoners they would have to wait 10 years for a new prime minister to come along.

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