Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Prison deaths climb at Prey Sar

Prison deaths climb at Prey Sar

Prison deaths climb at Prey Sar

Human rights groups say that a lack of prompt medical attention has led to the deaths

from chronic illnesses of at least 14 prisoners since February at the Sokimex-run

Prey Sar prison outside Phnom Penh.

The human rights groups say that the deaths are due in part to a reluctance by prison

authorities to transfer sick prisoners to hospital in time for treatment.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a source at human rights group LICADHO, said:

"It seems the ability to save human life [at Prey Sar] is limited. Some prisoners

died in hospital only two hours after being sent there."

San Ny, director of Prey Sar Prison, denied that his officials were reluctant to

send sick prisoners to hospital, although he agreed that a lack of basic medicines

and even water were valid criticisms.

"As head of the prison, the difficulties prisoners face does concern me. However,

the reality is that we do not have the ability to solve all these problems,"

said Ny.

He said the deaths were not preventable and pointed out that villagers living nearby

had also died from preventable illnesses.

Cambodia's jails are renowned for problems relating to corruption, poor food and

lack of medical attention. A recent report from LICADHO stated that 48 prisoners

died in the country's 20 prisons last year from illnesses such as AIDS, and diarrhea

and tuberculosis. The group said that a lack of medical treatment accounted for the

higher death toll.

LICADHO has started campaigning to improve the right of prisoners to receive medical

treatment, and also to improve their legal status and living conditions. It wants

the country to adopt the UN's standard minimum rules on treatment of prisoners. Among

these rules is one that states every prison should have a qualified medical officer

available.

"This is a serious issue for the prisoners," said the source. "We

are not taking their side because they are criminals, but because they have human

rights that need to be protected."

He added that when prisoners were sent to hospital, they were often treated as low

priority cases by medical staff. Other issues the organization raised were those

of corruption and lack of food: he said half of the country's prisoners regularly

received food from relatives to make up for the lack of proper food supplied by the

prison. The other half simply went hungry.

He also said that corrupt officials often forced relatives to pay as much as $30

on their first visit.

Another issue - that of overcrowding - was raised by Peter Leuprecht, the Special

Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a report last year.

Leuprecht said that donor aid would help to improve conditions in crowded prisons

and address the problems of poor food, education and the need to re-integrate prisoners

into society when they were released. Ny said that none of this has happened.

"He [Leuprecht] promised to help improve [the situation regarding] the water

supply and medicine to encourage human rights in Cambodia, but so far I feel disappointed.

He is just paying lip service to us," said Ny.

At the last count, around 460 of the 1,359 prisoners in Prey Sar prison were awaiting

trial.

MOST VIEWED

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • Khmer cinema classics back on big screen for free at WB Arena’s outdoor movies series

    On a recent Saturday evening at WB Arena, Bunsong was enjoying a tasty BBQ meal with his family after work on the long tables that had been arranged out in front of the restaurant as they watched a Khmer action movie on a big outdoor

  • PM heads to Washington for ASEAN-US special summit

    Regional and international issues and how to bring the ASEAN-US partnership to another level will be discussed at length as Prime Minister Hun Sen and his ministers arrive in Washington, DC, for a special summit on May 12-13. During the trip, Hun Sen and ASEAN

  • National Assembly refutes EU resolution

    The National Assembly (NA) has hit back at a European Parliament resolution condemning the political and human rights situation in Cambodia, calling it another display of the Parliament’s “double standards”. Key points of the resolution include a warning that the Parliament could exclude the