Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Prison, prisoners join to build worship area

Prison, prisoners join to build worship area

Prisoners at a ceremony conducted by monks at a new Buddhist shrine at Banteay Meanchey provincial prison
Prisoners at a ceremony conducted by monks at a new Buddhist shrine at Banteay Meanchey provincial prison on Wednesday. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Prison, prisoners join to build worship area

Detainees at Banteay Mean­chey Provincial Prison have joined forces with prison officials to pay for the construction of the first Buddhist worship hall in a Cambodian penitentiary.

The 800 inmates contributed a minimum of 500 riel each to help construct the worshipping facility fitted out with Buddhist statues to allow them to seek peace and enhance their opportunity for rehabilitation, prison director Hin Sophal said yesterday.

“Prison is the rehabilitation center for the prisoner. Only mental education through listening to the dharma can help the prisoners to be patient and contemplate their mistakes, so we decided to build a worship hall so we could invite the monks to preach to the prisoners,” he said.

“The money that was used to construct the hall came from the prisoners and the prison officials.”

Sophal has had monks visit the prison for more than two years to preach the dharma and teach the prisoners about discipline in order for them to psychologically mature and to attempt to make peace with the crimes they have committed.

“Most of the prisoners understand the mistakes they have made and like listening to the dharma, so the hall will make it easier for the monks to visit and help the prisoners,” he said.

Sharon Critoph, a prison consultant for rights group Licadho, supported the notion of religious practice in the prison as long as it is readily available to all prisoners.

“We welcome all measures which allow prisoners to exercise their right to freedom of religion but urge that the right to worship is not restricted to privileged groups of prisoners alone,” she said.

“Measures should be put in place to ensure everyone has the opportunity to worship, this should include pre-trial detainees.”

Chhum Vannrith, deputy provincial governor of Banteay Meanchey, said the presence of the monks will help the prisoners “to become new and better people when they enter society after completing their punishment”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince injured, wife dies after accident

    THE wife of former First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Ouk Phalla, 39, died while the prince was “severely” injured following a road accident in Preah Sihanouk province’s Prey Nub district on Sunday morning, officials said. Rananriddh, who is also the president of the Funcinpec

  • Bun Heang mocks US, threatens its citizens in scathing open letter

    After being hit with sanctions from the US Department of Treasury, Cambodian General Hing Bun Heang said he would retaliate against any US national who does not respect his country’s sovereignty, has ambitions to invade Cambodia or incites “traitors” in the Kingdom to do

  • Guards protest dismissals, reject claims of sharing naked photos of child

    Some 20 former security guards at the US Embassy in Phnom Penh protested on Tuesday against their dismissal. They accused their employers of falsely claiming they had viewed and shared child pornography from their mobile phones as grounds for their termination. In total, 32 personnel were dismissed

  • Ranariddh 'seriously injured', his wife dies in accident in Preah Sihanouk

    THE wife of former first prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh has died. Ouk Phalla succumbed to injuries sustained in a traffic accident on National Road 4 in Preah Sihanouk’s Prey Nub district this morning. She and the prince were immediately rushed to the Preah Sihanouk