Among the 35 convicted criminals who had their prison sentences reduced by the King for the Visak Bochea holiday, more than half committed sex-related offences, according to documents obtained by The Post yesterday.
In a royal decree signed May 29, King Norodom Sihamoni signed pardons for four convicts for crimes ranging from theft to rape, and reduced 35 sentences by up to a year.
Of the 23 convicts who had their sentences reduced by six months, almost two-thirds were jailed for sex-related crimes including rape and procurement of prostitution.
Several convicts had raped a child under the age of 15 but were deemed to “have worked hard to improve themselves during serving their punishment”, the royal decree said.
Chin Malin, a spokesman for the Justice Ministry, which compiles the list, said the nature of the crime was not considered when deciding whether to reduce a sentence or grant a pardon. Instead, the prisoners’ cooperation with the authorities and the duration of their term served were considered.
He said that the leniency granted to sex offenders “does not encourage rape crimes”, adding that a pardon or sentence reduction would not be granted “if the nature of the crime was brutal”.
But in an email, Chak Sopheap, executive director of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, expressed concern that the government might not consider rape a serious crime, and said the system of royal pardons needs to establish transparency and clearer criteria.