Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Prison spot checks ordered

Prison spot checks ordered

Prison guards watch over inmates as they sit in the courtyard at Prey Sar on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Sar Kheng issued a notice last week to government officials, directing them to conduct inspections on detainee treatment in detention centres.
Prison guards watch over inmates as they sit in the courtyard at Prey Sar on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. Sar Kheng issued a notice last week to government officials, directing them to conduct inspections on detainee treatment in detention centres. Heng Chivoan

Prison spot checks ordered

The Minister of Interior has ordered senior officials to conduct unannounced spot checks of the Kingdom’s detention centres in an effort to ensure that inmates are not receiving ill treatment behind bars.

The order was given in a letter from Interior Minister Sar Kheng dated August 7, and sent to immigration, rehabilitation and other detention centres nationwide.

“In accordance with the recommendations and additional protocols of the United Nations to prevent torture, cruel violence, inhumane acts, abuse or undue punishment, to which Cambodia is a state party, the ministry will order task force members and secretary of state members to prevent undue punishment, inspect, check and interview [at prisons] nationally, without informing them beforehand,” the letter says.

The same letter orders those in charge of prisons and detention centres to facilitate the work of visiting national inspectors.

Under the UN’s Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, Cambodia – a signatory to the protocol – is obliged to form an independent national mechanism for monitoring the treatment of its prisoners, but the country failed to live up that standard for years, despite at least one rebuke from the UN, in 2011.

The UN conducted its own spot checks of Cambodia’s prisons in 2013, though the findings were kept confidential.

In a January 2015 report, the rights group Licadho said that inhumane conditions in prisons are the rule rather than the exception, and that inmates still report suffering violence at the hands of authorities.

“Some of them were pushed hard against the wall; tools used for beatings are rifles, sticks, iron bars, batons, walkie-talkies, handcuffs, chains, ropes, wires, bricks, and belts,” the report says.

Am Sam Ath, senior technical manager for Licadho, said he welcomed the ministry’s measures, and that his organisation was aware of abuses still taking place within Cambodian places of detention, offering the notorious Prey Speu Social Affairs Centre as an example.

“While the inspections, checks and investigations are taking place, if a prison, correctional centre or any other place mistreats the prisoners or detainees, the ministry must take legal measures so that mistreatment will be prevented,” he said.

“But if we spot it and then we do nothing, I think that it is a waste of national funds and time.”

Numerous ministry and prison officials – including ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak, Department of Prisons director Kuy Bunsorn, Prey Sar prison director Klot Dara and Prey Speu director Van Ngart – could not be reached for comment yesterday.

MOST VIEWED

  • First deportees of the year touch down in Cambodia

    Twenty-five Cambodian-Americans landed in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, marking the first such deportations of the year. “On Wednesday, US law enforcement authorities deported 25 Cambodian nationals that immigration judges determined had no legal basis to remain in the US,” said Arend Zwartjes, spokesperson for the US

  • Qatar Airways to connect Doha and Siem Reap town

    Qatar Airways Company QCSC has announced a new route connecting Qatar’s capital Doha with Siem Reap, a move hailed by local officials as a significant step to boost tourist numbers. A Qatar Airways representative, speaking at the Kuwait Aviation Show, announced on Thursday that

  • Sokha defence denies Tech’s claims

    ON DAY two of Kem Sokha’s treason trial, lawyers for the government said the defence had raised questions in an attempt to allow their client to make a public statement and a conclusion to the case, something his legal team denied. Ky Tech, a

  • Call for boycott of Angkor unacceptable

    Dear Editor, I wish to express my strong disagreement on the article published by Traveller for their website with the title Best places to go in 2020: 12 destinations you should avoid. Below is my opinion of the article. It is obviously free for the Traveller to

  • Probe underway after wreckage of drone with Chinese characters found

    Air Force Command spokesman Prak Sokha said on Sunday that investigations are underway regarding the wreckage of a drone that was recovered in Koh Kong province’s Koh Sdech commune in Kiri Sakor district. The wreckage has been taken to the capital for further examination,

  • Good governance needed for sustainable growth

    Cambodia is one of the most successful countries in achieving high and rapid economic growth in Asia and the world. The average 7 per cent of annual GDP growth in the past two decades has lifted millions of people out of poverty. In 2015, Cambodia graduated from