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Gov’t weighs requests for pardons

Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana, who is overseeing the review of over 700 inmates eligible for pardons or reduced sentences, speaks on Tuesday.
Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana, who is overseeing the review of over 700 requests for pardons or reduced sentences, speaks on Tuesday. Heng Chivoan

Gov’t weighs requests for pardons

The Ministry of Interior is reviewing a list of more than 700 inmates eligible for pardons or reduced sentences during the upcoming Water Festival.

Speaking yesterday as the review process began, Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana said that while prisoners who have served two thirds of their original sentences are eligible, it can be a difficult decision.

He added that “in cases where we cannot decide or do not dare decide” he would look to Prime Minister Hun Sen for a final decision.

The list of eligible prisoners is compiled by heads of 21 provincial prisons and four correctional centres. To receive reduced sentences, prisoners must have served at least one third of their time.

Am Sam Ath, technical adviser at rights group Licadho, said the pardons can be “unfair” and that “political prisoners” rarely make the cut.

In previous pardons, inmates have claimed that officials took bribes so only wealthy prisoners were freed, he said.

According to a January report by Licadho, systemic abuse and exploitation remains prevalent in the penal system despite reforms.

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