Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - No more pardons for big offenders, officials pledge

No more pardons for big offenders, officials pledge

General Be Tea Leng, operation department director of the Interior Ministry’s general department of prisons, talks yesterday at the Ministry of Justice where prisoner pardons were discussed.
General Be Tea Leng, operation department director of the Interior Ministry’s general department of prisons, talks yesterday at the Ministry of Justice where prisoner pardons were discussed. Heng Chivoan

No more pardons for big offenders, officials pledge

Just three weeks after being ordered by Prime Minister Hun Sen to examine its pardon application procedures amid a rash of violent crime nationwide, the Ministry of Justice announced today the end of pardons and early release altogether for prisoners who have committed serious offences.

“From now on, pardons for prisoners who have just a few months remaining to serve, will no longer be granted,” Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin said yesterday, after a four-hour meeting of officials. “And we will also not consider pardoning big crimes . . . such as major robberies and drug [offences].”

Previously, authorities had not considered the nature of a crime when deciding whether to reduce a sentence or grant a pardon, but only looked at how much of the term had been served and how the attitude of the prisoner had changed, Malin added.

Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana also acknowledged past problems with pardons, admitting that some inmates “have been imprisoned and released, and then robbed again and again after they left prison”.

However, to make the new policy work, Malin said, regular inspection of prisons would need to be strengthened to ensure any officials engaged in corrupt activities involving prisoners were identified and dealt with by the courts.

However, the prison system is facing a major challenge due to over-crowding, according to the operations department director of the Interior Ministry’s general department of prisons, General Be Tea Leng.

Cambodia’s prisons have capacity to accommodate 12,000 prisoners, Leng said, but are currently coping with 17,896.

“The standard number of inmates a group cell is supposed to hold is eight,” he said. “But right now we are putting 28 or 30 prisoners in such a cell, and that’s an important issue.”

Leng said there was also a problem about confining in the same place prisoners who had committed crimes of differing levels of severity.

“We acknowledge that keeping together offenders who have committed minor, serious and very serious crimes is a challenge,” he said.

“But we are currently unable to separate prisoners into groups according to the seriousness of the offence they have committed.”

Last year, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that many judges in Cambodia were not familiar with rules on pre-trial detention, a problem campaigners have said boosts the prison population as large numbers of people are incarcerated for minor offences.

There were no plans to expand prison capacity, Leng added, but older prisons would continue to undergo repair.

MOST VIEWED

  • Kingdom’s domestic milk still cannot compete with imports

    Price competition and a lack of confidence by consumers are the main reasons the dairy market cannot compete with imports, said domestic milk producers. The large displays of imported fresh milk at the Kingdom’s supermarkets present a cumbersome obstacle for local producers, they said.

  • ‘Pesticide-laden cucumbers’ kill two, poison 150 in Banteay Meanchey

    At least two youths have died and 243 others are being treated for vomiting, diarrhoea, breathing difficulties, dizziness and muscle weakness after they ate cucumbers suspected to consist of pesticides. The incident happened on Saturday, said Banteay Meanchey provincial police chief Ath Khem. He told The

  • Three dead, 13 injured in collapse at Siem Reap pagoda

    At least three people were killed and more than 10 others injured on Monday after a dining hall under construction collapsed at Prasat Kokchak pagoda in Kokchak commune, Siem Reap province. Provincial police chief Tith Narong said Military Police, soldiers and local volunteers had successfully recovered 16

  • Forest Harmony’s $18M luxury villas break ground in Kampot

    Local and French joint-venture Forest Harmony has broken ground on its $18 million “second-home” Luxury Holiday Villas project in Kampot province. Century 21 Mekong CEO and local shareholder of the project Chrek Soknim told The Post that the project will comprise 90 villa units covering 18ha on a 97

  • China Unicom enters Cambodia

    China Unicom, the country’s largest telecoms operator, has expanded into Cambodia to build optical telecommunication pathways in the Kingdom as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Hong Kong-listed company officially opened its China Unicom (Cambodia) subsidiary on Monday to become the

  • PP-SHV Expressway on track for completion in early 2023

    The construction of the $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway, which broke ground at the end of March, is on track to be completed by early 2023, Ministry of Public Works and Transport spokesman Vasim Sorya said on Monday. The 190km high-speed highway linking the capital to the