The director of Kandal Provincial Prison has denied allegations brought to the Anti-Corruption Unit that inmates at his prison are able to pay money for better living conditions, while those unable to pay are left in squalour.
A statement released by the ACU via its website yesterday said that it questioned prison director Chat Sineang regarding a complaint they received on October 21. Sineang denied all corruption allegations levied against him, the letter says.
Among claims made in the complaint against Sineang are that he charges prisoners $100 per month for permission to use mobile phones and $50 for television. It also alleges that prisoners are able to serve their time in juvenile facilities for up to $1,500 per month or health centres for up to $3,000 a month – both of which offer better living conditions than the provincial prison.
“[Sineang] would like to refute all allegations . . . and added that unless a detainee has a letter from a prison doctor confirming a health condition, they are not allowed to stay at health centres,” the ACU’s letter says.
Neither Sineang nor ACU officials could be reached for comment yesterday. It is not clear whether the ACU is investigating the case further.
However, a former inmate at Kandal Provincial Prison, who was released last month after a six-month stint for snatching someone’s bag, yesterday said that she witnessed the payments for services in the facility.
“If you have money, you can pay $50 per month to watch TV. They call this ‘the price of electricity’,” said Chanthy, 28, who asked not to be identified by her full name. “If you have money, you can sleep in a bed, but I slept on the floor, because I did not have enough money to pay prison officials.”
Naly Pilorge, director of rights group Licadho, yesterday said in an email that such corruption behind bars is common practise across the Kingdom. The problem is pervasive throughout Cambodia’s criminal justice system, and steps should be taken to eradicate it, she said.
“There is no doubt that, with few exceptions, an inmate’s financial status and position in the fiscal hierarchy is the defining factor in their daily prison life,” Pilorge said. “Until systems are introduced to monitor and act against corruption in prison the poorest prisoners will continue to endure the worst conditions.”
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEAN TEEHAN