Some 100 prisoners have had their convictions pardoned or sentences reduced in conjunction with the Independence Day and Water Festival, said the Ministry of Interior’s general department of prisons spokesman, San Keo. He said those affected were given clemency regardless of their political affiliations.
“I don’t have the exact figure with me and I’m not sure if it includes any member of a former opposition party because we don’t look at political affiliations. We only know that they have changed for the better,” he said.
Early this month, the National Committee for Punishment Reduction and Exemption Review looked into the cases of 523 prisoners with a view to granting pardons.
Keo said while many prisoners were eligible for pardon, not all were granted clemency.
“It’s like a contest. They were all eligible after being rehabilitated and having served one- or two-thirds of their sentences. But the committee also has to consider the seriousness of their crimes and if they have had their sentences previously reduced,” he said.
Keo said a small number of foreign inmates were also included in the new round of pardons.
The government typically pardons prisoners during main public holidays including Khmer New Year, Visak Bochea (Buddha Day) and the Water Festival.
But Prime Minister Hun Sen recently said prisoners would also be granted freedom during Independence Day, Pchum Ben and the Win-Win Policy Day on December 30, which marks the 20th anniversary of the policy he used to bring Khmer Rouge leaders to join peace talks in the early 1990s.
On Monday, Justice Ministry spokesperson Chin Malin confirmed the new round of pardons but declined to provide further details.
“The pardons are for Independence Day and the Water Festival. For these, we target the elderly, prisoners with serious illnesses, pregnant inmates and women whose young children are living with them in prison,” he said.
The deputy director-general of the General Department of Prisons, Uch Pong, said earlier this month that there were 31,226 prisoners nationwide. Women made up 2,663 of the population.