The Ministry of Interior’s Department of Prisons has reformed its policy on granting pardons as a way of allowing inmates to more easily convene with family members during national holidays.
Nuth Sa An, the ministry’s secretary of state, said the reforms would allow prisoners to be pardoned one day before the start of major national holidays, giving them ample time to meet their families.
The decision was made during the prison department’s annual meeting last week.
“For example, we want to grant pardons and reduce sentences on Khmer New Year…however, we have never made [the pardon] one day before or on the holiday,” said Nuth Sa An.
“Therefore, granting pardons or reducing sentences becomes meaningless.”
He added that this new pardon policy has reached the Ministry of Justice, which is preparing a draft law on the issue.
“We have to discuss with the Ministry of Justice to process the reform,” said Nuth Sa An.
Under the new policy, he said a committee would submit a list of prisoners eligible for pardoning to the department of prisons 30 days before major holidays.
A separate committee would review the prisoner list and submit an edited list of prisoners suitable for pardoning to the government 10 days prior to the holiday.
Once this process is complete, a royal pardon could be signed by King Norodom Sihamoni, said Nuth Sa An.
Liv Mauv, deputy director of the department of prisons, said pardons are granted during three national holidays: Khmer New Year, Meak Bochea Day and the Water Festival.
Nguon Lay, director of a Pursat provincial detention centre, said sentence reductions depend on the level of convicted crimes.
Prisoners serving time for minor offences, he said, were eligible for release after serving one-third of their sentence.
Serious criminal offences, he said, required a minimum of two-thirds time served, while prisoners facing life imprisonment could have their sentences reduced by as much as 20 years.