Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Jail alternative possible

Jail alternative possible

Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin speaks to the press on Friday.
Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin speaks to the press on Friday. Facebook

Jail alternative possible

A Ministry of Justice official appeared to revive the possibility of an alternative sentencing program that would reduce overcrowding in prisons by assigning small-time offenders to community service.

Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin, who spoke to reporters briefly after a closed-door meeting with the UN’s interim human rights representative Simon Walker on Friday, said the ministry needs time to study the concept further.

“We don’t want to put [offenders] in jail, which would be a waste of the skills and knowledge they have and make the prison crowded,” Malin said.

In a message yesterday, Walker directed questions about the program to the ministry.

UN Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith first pitched the idea during her fact-finding mission in August, to praise from civil society organisations.

The Ministry of Justice proposed a pilot in Battambang province but backtracked after a senior Justice Ministry official challenged the idea in September due to concerns that the public would assume suspects had been released due to corruption and take matters into their own hands.

Malin confirmed yesterday that the ministry is still open to the idea, but only for convicted offenders, not those in pre-trial detention.

“They are not freed,” Malin said. “They are still under the surveillance of the authority of the court.”

Nuth Savna, deputy chief of the General Department of Prisons, said he would welcome the pilot project and that it would help reduce prison overcrowding. Cambodia currently has about 30,000 prisoners and detainees, according to Savna.

MOST VIEWED

  • Negotiations on EBA being held

    In an effort to defuse tensions, a senior government official said Cambodia is negotiating with the European Union (EU) on the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade deal, which allows the Kingdom to export goods to the 28-member bloc tariff-free. The EU notified Cambodia on October 5

  • EU officials: Ending EBA an 18-month procedure

    EU officials have confirmed that it will take a total of 18 months to complete the procedure if Cambodia’s preferential Everything But Arms (EBA) trade agreement is to be withdrawn. According to EU Agriculture and Rural Development spokesman Daniel Rosario, the formal process has not

  • Chinese police escort deported scam suspects

    Ninety-one Chinese nationals accused of extorting money from victims in a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scam were deported from Phnom Penh International Airport on Monday under the escort of 182 Chinese police personnel. General Department of Immigration head of investigations Ouk Hay Seila told reporters

  • IPU slams government claim

    The president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Gabriela Cuevas Barron, has refuted a claim by the National Assembly that she “highly appreciated the achievements of Cambodia” in its July national elections with a tweet saying “Of course not!” before adding “No congratulations”. A delegation from