LOCAL rights group Adhoc has accused the government of obscuring the circumstances surrounding deaths of prisoners and failing to investigate them properly.
Chan Soveth, a senior monitor for Adhoc, said prison officials in Kampong Cham province had prevented his organisation from investigating the deaths of five inmates who died at Kampong Cham provincial prison in the space of just five days earlier this month.
“We were barred from investigating the deaths at the prison, so I urge government officials and other relevant authorities to open a proper investigation,” Chan Soveth said.
According to a report from Kampong Cham provincial prison Director Hou Puthvisal, five inmates at the facility died between July 7 and July 11; causes of death were listed as Hepatitis B, tuberculosis, high blood pressure, heart attack and respiratory failure. Hou Puthvisal declined to comment on the issue yesterday.
Chan Soveth said that officials throughout the prison system do not properly examine the bodies of deceased prisoners before cremation, and that they fail to investigate evidence that abuse and overcrowding have harmed inmates’ health. Kampong Cham provincial prison currently holds nearly 800 inmates, he noted, far beyond its official capacity of 500.
New statistics issued this week by the Interior Ministry stated that 41 inmates nationwide had died during the first six months of this year.
Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak and prison department director Heng Hak could not be reached for comment yesterday.