The almost 400 inmates held in Kampot Provincial Prison were transferred yesterday to a new facility, which officials say is better fit for purpose but a local rights group claims lacks any clean water.
Em Bo, the director of Kampot’s provincial facility, said 374 inmates were transferred from the Teuk Chhou district compound to a newly constructed facility about 17 kilometres away.
“The old prison was too narrow. The new one is large and it also has a well and pond to use,” he said following the transfer. “We have sent them there and there is no problem.”
About 50 armed police joined prison guards in transferring the inmates, who were moved, along with their belongings, in seven trucks.
Morm Kesey, Kampot’s provincial coordinator for local rights group Licadho who observed the move, said the new prison should mean there are fewer escapes than there were at the old decrepit facility.
“In the past, the prisoners used to jump off the fence, and sometimes they escaped on the way to the court,” he said. “While the building work was happening, two prisoners escaped and they have not been recaptured yet.”
The two men, Sun Srean, 46, and So Ngok, 29, escaped in September last year while taking part in constructing the new prison.
Kesey urged the prison to deploy more security guards at its new site to avoid further escapes.
He also highlighted issues inside the remote facility, which included the lack of clean water or a place to dump trash.
“This new prison is located far away from the provincial town; it has no clean water and is next to the mountain. This can make the prisoners face many diseases,” he said.
In Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison, an almost year-long water shortage led to ill health and fighting among inmates, as prison staff cashed in on clean water being trucked into the facility.
According to sources at Prey Sar, inmates were forced to pay up to $15 a month for clean water.
Kuy Bunsorn, director of the Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Prisons, could not be reached yesterday.