Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Justice ministry reviews conditions for early prisoner release

Justice ministry reviews conditions for early prisoner release

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Inmates were transported back from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court to the prison while their relatives saw them off. Heng Chivoan

Justice ministry reviews conditions for early prisoner release

The Ministry of Justice is planning a draft announcement concerning conditions that prisoners released on bail must follow. The ministry’s initiative aims to reduce overcrowding and prevent the spread of Covid-19 in correctional facilities.

The plan came after ministry secretary of state Kim Santepheap held a meeting on June 10 to review the announcement for monitoring and integrating prisoners back into society.

Santepheap told The Post on June 13 that the draft was drawn up in accordance with the Criminal Code. Prisoners with good behaviour will be eligible for release on bail.

“In order to implement the spirit of this code, the ministry is required to prepare an announcement on monitoring and integrating inmates into the community. We release them on bail. So, this draft is under review and not yet final,” he said.

However, he said the announcement would be issued soon as a commission for releasing prisoners would also be set up.

He added that the draft focused on time served and behaviour. The deciding factor for these two issues and some other practical problems would be taken into consideration in making a decision whether to release a prisoner. The nature of the case is taken into account and even serious offences would be considered.

“The draft means a prisoner who is released on bail can re-enter society, but it is subject to certain conditions. Failing to fulfil these obligations means the prisoner will return to jail to complete the sentence,” he said.

Santepheap explained that the draft was different to a pardon or a sentence reduction. Cambodia has always granted these clemencies five times a year during national holidays.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director for rights group Licadho, said the initiative might help reduce prison overcrowding and prevent the spread of Covid-19.

“This draft could facilitate the release of some prisoners on bail and we want it to be implemented soon no matter what the conditions are, but with transparency,” he said.

“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 relating to Covid-19. If prisoner numbers are reduced, it is easy to control,” he said.

However, he requested that officials implement the announcement in a transparent and fair manner, especially giving priority to vulnerable inmates.

“As a civil organisation, we are deeply concerned about the Covid-19 pandemic because prisons are crowded. Civil society organisations working on human rights have been providing input relating to the release of prisoners on bail,” he said.

Sam Ath suggested that prisoners in pre-trial detention, prisoners who are near the end of their sentences, and prisoners with health issues be released.

The draft comprises of five articles which detail the conditions of a prisoner’s release on bail. They include having a permanent address, receiving vocational training, fulfilling obligations to society, not associating themselves with certain individuals such as accomplice, instigator or the victim of crime, and not be in possession of a weapon.


  • Joy as Koh Ker Temple registered by UNESCO

    Cambodia's Koh Ker Temple archaeological site has been officially added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List, during the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on September 17. The ancient temple, also known as Lingapura or Chok Gargyar, is located in

  • Ream base allegations must end, urges official

    A senior government official urges an end to the allegations and suspicions surrounding the development of Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, now that Prime Minister Hun Manet has addressed the issue on the floor of the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA 78). Jean-Francois Tain, a geopolitical

  • Cambodia set to celebrate Koh Ker UNESCO listing

    To celebrate the inscription of the Koh Ker archaeological site on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, the Ministry of Cults and Religion has appealed to pagodas and places of worship to celebrate the achievement by ringing bells, shaking rattles and banging gongs on September 20. Venerable

  • CP denied registration documents by ministry

    The Ministry of Interior will not reissue registration documents to the Candlelight Party (CP). Following a September 21 meeting between ministry secretary of state Bun Honn and CP representatives, the ministry cited the fact that there is no relevant law which would authorise it to do

  • Cambodian diaspora laud Manet’s UN Assembly visit

    Members of the Cambodian diaspora are rallying in support of Prime Minister Hun Manet’s forthcoming visit to the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA 78) in the US’ New York City this week. Their move is an apparent response to a recent call by self-exiled former

  • After three deferrals, Capital Gains Tax to take effect Jan 1, 2024

    The General Department of Taxation (GDT) will implement the Capital Gains Tax starting January 1, 2024 to after being deferred three times as industrial players warn that the implementation might have some negative impact on the property market growth, which is down due to the economic downturn.