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Inmate early release rules set

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Inmates at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court in January. Hean Rangsey

Inmate early release rules set

The Ministry of Justice issued a prakas on the procedures for monitoring, supervising and reintegrating inmates on conditional release from prison in order to ensure effective implementation of procedures for integration of prisoners back into society.

The prakas released on July 16 states that conditional releases are under the authority of the director of the municipal and provincial court where the detention centre the prisoner is incarcerated is located.

The court director shall decide on the conditional release according to the decision warrant with reasons given after obtaining the comments of the national commission on the conditional release, as based on articles 514, 515 and 516 of the Criminal Code.

The prakas said the conditions, forms and procedures for conditional release as well as termination of conditional release are stated in article 512-522 of the Criminal Code.

The court director shall determine the procedure and duration for the conditional release which cannot exceed the duration of the remaining sentence. He can set one or more obligatory conditions as necessary.

These obligations include prisoners having to perform professional activities, receive training or vocational training, and live in a designated area.

The director must specify prohibited activities, such as not associating with certain individuals, especially other felons, accomplices or victims of the crime that the detainee was charged with. They must not possess or carry weapons, explosives and ammunition of any kind.

The prakas emphasises that in cases where the prisoners do not comply with the conditional release orders, the director may revoke the order and may order the arrest of the prisoner to carry out the remainder of their sentence in prison.

In addition to following these obligations, inmates may be placed under the surveillance of the authorities, subject to one or more obligations, including obeying the prosecutor’s summons or the summons of the person assigned by the prosecutor.

Those who receive conditional release must notify the prosecutor of any change of their occupation and get permission from the prosecutor before travelling abroad.

The prosecutor who issues a conditional release order has to exercise his authority in accordance with the law to ensure the implementation of the conditional release and is entitled to take the necessary measures to monitor, follow up and control the implementation of that order.

The national commission for conditional releases has to cooperate with public, private, non-governmental organisations or other relevant institutions to facilitate the reintegration of prisoners back to society.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director for rights group Licadho, said recently that early release with conditions could reduce prison overcrowding and prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“Through this mechanism, we allow them to return to their families and help them earn a living. What is more important is to control risks related to Covid-19. If prisoner numbers are reduced, it is easier to control,” he said.

He suggested that officials implement the prakas in a transparent and fair manner, especially giving priority to vulnerable inmates.

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