Prisons in Banteay Meanchey and Battambang province have been seriously affected by flooding but have not yet been evacuated, according to local rights groups and prison officials.
“We will take action if the rain and flooding continues, and our working group will find a safe place for detainees. We experienced [flooding] in 2010 and 2011, so we piled up soil to surround the prison systems,” Kuy Bun Sorn, director general of the prisons department at the Ministry of Interior, said yesterday.
A clogged sewage system has plagued Battambang’s provincial prison, according to Bun Sorn, but extra pumps have alleviated the problem. Hy Chamroeun, a deputy provincial prison director, said that despite the province’s water-logged state, the prison remains dry.
“We have not taken actions to evacuate the prisoners to somewhere else because we are in a higher place, so our prisons cannot flood,” Chamroeun said.
Flooding around Banteay Meanchey provincial prison started on September 27 and continued through Monday. Water levels around the building reached up to 90 centimetres, according to prison director Hin Sophal.
“We have blocked water in three stages, and now the water stops at the prison fence and nothing can affect the prisoners,” Sophal said.
Four water pumps were being used to release water around the site, and two more had been added to work around the clock, he continued.
“If the water still rises, we will take measures to evacuate the prisoners, but now we can control the situation, and prisoners do not have any problems,” Sophal added.
Som Chankear, a provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said the organisation was keeping an eye on the health of the prisoners.
“High [water] inundation seriously affects the health of the prisoners because they are living without sanitation,” Chankear said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AMELIA WOODSIDE