Cambodia's King Norodom Sihanouk has called for international help in renovating
the nation's prisons, saying inmates were held in sub-human conditions.
The King said it had become "urgent to renovate or better to demolish these
prisons and replace them by new penal institutions, respecting minimal international
norms, which...conform to the principle of respect for human rights.'
Sihanouk, in a declaration issued by the Royal Palace on Jan 6, said inmates of prisons
in the capital and provinces, some dating back to French colonial times, had to survive
in sub-human conditions.
"They lose their human dignity," because of the appalling conditions, the
king wrote, adding: "The most basic hygiene rules are not respected...the food
that is served to them is insufficient and disgusting."
He said the poor conditions of the buildings and lack of maintenance of cells together
with overcrowding left the prisons breeding traps for disease.
Human rights workers noted that prison conditions had improved during the 1992-93
UN-peacekeeping mission to Cambodia but had taken a turn for the worse last year.
The sources, who estimated Cambodia's prison population at more than 2,000, noted
that an inmate at a provincial prison near Phnom Penh had died of malnutrition last