Eighty-seven out of nearly 800 inmates have been transferred from Kratie provincial prison to Stung Treng in an effort to alleviate severe overcrowding.
Kratie prison director Kva Saran told The Post on January 19 that the transfer had been approved by the Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Prisons. Most of the inmates had been charged with theft or possession or use of drugs.
“Our prison is small and was designed to accommodate only 400 prisoners. But until recently, we had almost 800 so the prison cells get hot and stuffy,” he said.
Saran added that his prison’s population now stood at 709, including 65 women and four children under three years old who live with their mothers. Because there were still too many inmates at the facility, more would need to be transferred to other prisons until additional accommodations can be constructed.
Stung Treng provincial prison director Chhun Dara told The Post that the transferred prisoners had arrived safely on January 17 and were being held in newly-built cells. He noted that some of the arrivals had not yet completed court trials.
Am Sam Ath, deputy director for right group Licadho, told The Post that transferring prisoners from one facility to another was not a sustainable strategy to deal with overcrowding because there were already not enough prison cells nationwide to house the current number of prisoners adequately.
“Even though Kratie borders Stung Treng province, the transfers will cause difficulties in transporting those prisoners for trial and for family members who would visit them, especially if they are poor,” he said.
Sam Ath added that the number of detainees in the country increases daily which necessitates the construction of more prison cells. He noted that at least 30 people are arrested each day for drug crimes and thefts.