Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Pay-to-stay prison block ‘to mitigate jail overcrowding’

Pay-to-stay prison block ‘to mitigate jail overcrowding’

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Inmates sit at Prey Sar prison in Phnom Penh in 2010. The Interior Minister has announced the construction of pay-to-stay block to mitigate overcrowding. post staff

Pay-to-stay prison block ‘to mitigate jail overcrowding’

Cambodia's prisons have long been known for severe overcrowding, with Interior Minister Sar Kheng announcing last year the construction of a “hotel-like” pay-to-stay prison block for inmates to address the issue.

The first such facility, built at Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison as a model, is set to open early next year. A joint venture between the government and a Cambodian-owned company, the three-storey block would be a far cry from typical prison cells, where scores often share a single latrine.

However, the $4 million facility would not be as luxurious as a hotel, with a senior official at the Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Prisons (GDP) pointing out that the only luxury the new prison block offers is space.

GDP spokesperson Sorn Keo told The Post on Tuesday that the pay-to-stay facility will be operated under the same standards as other prisons, with inmates receiving equal treatment.

“The new building is for prisoners who can afford to pay. Even though prisoners can pay money to stay there, they will be treated on par with others and under normal prison conditions."

‘Same standards’

“The facility will be managed under the same standards. There will be no air conditioners and no mattresses. Prisoners can pay for bigger space [in the cell]."

“They will have fans like in normal public prisons. Whatever normal prisons have, the new prison block will have the same. This is not a hotel-prison,” he said.

Prey Sar prison is separated into two facilities – Correctional Centre 1 and Correctional Centre 2.

The former is for male detainees, while the latter is for women.

The new pay-to-stay block was developed by Kunn Rekon Holdings Company, a Cambodian-Korean joint venture on a 1ha plot. Construction started in May last year and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

During the groundbreaking ceremony in May last year, the company’s deputy director, Yao Chen Ming, said the buildings will be able to accommodate 1,200 inmates, including 180 undergoing drug rehabilitation.

Rights group Adhoc’s spokesperson Soeng Senkarona said pay-to-stay prisons are unwarranted as inmates in developed countries also live in the same prisons.

“I welcome prison reform, but not this kind of reform which allows wealthy prisoners to stay separately from others. In other developed countries, prisons offer beds. They provide the same amenities to rich and poor inmates. Whatever is given in prisons, inmates should receive them equally,” he said.

Senkarona said there should be no separation between prisoners who are poor, wealthy, and disgraced senior government officials. “If we have modern prison facilities, I am worried that prisoners will not be afraid of punishment,” he said.

Cambodia’s prison population swelled to more than 28,000 inmates last year – well over the system’s capacity.

In 2016, there were around 22,000 inmates, with 7,500 in pre-trial detention. A report released by GDP in February showed that the prison population had ballooned by some 30 per cent last year to 28,414, with more than 10,000 locked up in pre-trial detention.

MOST VIEWED

  • Investors’ $14.4M projects approved

    New investments from local and foreign sources continue to pour into Cambodia despite the Covid-19 pandemic remaining a lingering threat to regional and global economies. This comes as the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to contract between one and 2.9 per cent this

  • NagaWorld casinos set to reopen, schools to follow

    NAGACORP Ltd has requested that it be allowed to reopen its NagaWorld integrated resorts in Phnom Penh after the government recently approved casinos to operate again, provided they follow Covid-19 prevention measures set by the Ministry of Health. Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry

  • Rubber exports stretch 17%

    Cambodia exported 97,175 tonnes of natural rubber in the first five months of this year, surging 17 per cent compared to the same period last year as the Covid-19 pandemic stretches on, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries official Khuong Phalla told The Post on Thursday. Phalla,

  • ASEM supports Kingdom’s proposal to postpone meeting amid Covid

    The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) scheduled to be held in Cambodia in November has been postponed until mid-2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation press statement released on Saturday said. The decision was made during a two-day meeting

  • Coffee maker roasted for producing fake product

    The Ministry of Interior’s Counter Counterfeit Committee will send a suspect to court on Monday after she allegedly roasted coffee mixed with soybeans and other ingredients, creating a product which could pose a high risk to consumers’ health. On the afternoon of July 2, the

  • Cash handout programme 80% complete

    Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Vong Soth confirmed on Thursday that the implementation of the Cash Transfer Programme For Poor and Vulnerable Households During Covid-19 had been implemented for more than 80% of the over 560,000 families. The programme was introduced one week ago.

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Where is Cambodia’s exit strategy that can save the economy?

    With the prospect of being slammed by a double whammy, the government is working on an economic recovery plan to deliver it from Covid-19 and the EU’s partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms scheme in the next two to three years Cambodia is

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Kingdom, UN discuss rights

    A year after Cambodia received 198 recommendations from UN member countries, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR-Cambodia) met with the Cambodia Human Rights Committee (CHRC) to discuss following-up on the Kingdom’s third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and