About 500 inmates at Preah Sihanouk Provincial Prison will be transferred to a new jail site at the start of next year after the government agreed to a land-swap with a private business, a senior official confirmed yesterday.
Mao Nom, deputy director of the general department of prisons, said the new site is halfway finished and will be located on a 3.5-hectare patch of land. The prison is being constructed by Sombo Dara Company, the company claiming the former location, and is due for completion by the end of the year.
“All the prisoners will be transferred to the new prison, and the current prison, which sits on 0.5 hectares of land, will be handed to Sombo Dara Company to control and develop,” Mao Nom confirmed, without elaborating on the company’s plans.
However, a Preah Sihanouk Provincial Prison guard, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions, said he had visited the new location yesterday and feared it was not being built to technical standards. He urged experts to investigate the site.
While land swaps between government and private interests have routinely drawn scrutiny due to the potential for illicit gain, Bun Narith, a provincial official with rights group Licadho, yesterday welcomed the relocation, saying the current cells were too narrow, with up to 70 prisoners being kept in one cell.
Narith said he hoped the move would make new space available for the teaching of vocational skills and other rehabilitation activities.