PRIME Minister Hun Sen said last week that prison officials in Siem Reap province must put a stop to nighttime fights staged between prisoners, a practice local officials insist has not been permitted.
Speaking at the Ministry of Interior on Wednesday, Hun Sen said he had heard rumours about the fighting from a prisoner who was recently released from a correctional facility in the province.
“I heard that a prison in Siem Reap is letting prisoners exercise at night by fighting each other,” Hun Sen said in an address to around 300 anti-drug police officers. “This kind of activity should not be allowed – prisoners should be resting at night.”
Khoem Sopheak, deputy director of Siem Reap provincial prison, said the type of scene the prime minister had described was not taking place in his facility.
“We know about human rights, so we cannot do that. We only let them exercise in the early morning, and we never allow any fighting,” Khoem Sopheak said.
Khoem Sopheak speculated that rumours may have reached Hun Sen after a recent brawl at Siem Reap provincial prison that occurred while prisoners were eating dinner unsupervised.
Heng Hak, director of the prisons department at the Ministry of Interior, said he had immediately checked with prison officials in Siem Reap after Hun Sen’s comments and and had found no evidence of unauthorised fighting.
“We did not find anything like that,” Heng Hak said.
Though prisoners are permitted to exercise and meet with family members during the day, Heng Hak added, they are locked in their cells and monitored in the evening.