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Prisoner’s pardon fails to outpace her death

Prisoner’s pardon fails to outpace her death

A Vietnamese woman imprisoned on child sex trafficking charges in 2009 received a humanitarian royal pardon last month, but only after she had been dead for more than a month, the rights NGO Licadho said yesterday.

The group said that in February it submitted a letter requesting a royal pardon for Ty Kemhoeung on the basis that she was in the final stages of terminal breast cancer. But Licadho reportedly received no response before learning of her death in prison in Phnom Penh in October.

Last week, investigators from the group finally obtained a copy of a royal decree, dated November 16 and issued following a request by Prime Minister Hun Sen, that confirmed the decision to pardon Kemhoeung.

Am Sam Ath, Licadho’s senior investigator, expressed sadness at the sluggish official mechanisms that had delayed the process.

“We hope that in any future similar cases, the officials involved will prepare a report and confirm clearly the details so that the prime minister will be able to ask for a pardon from the King in time,” he said.

Chin Malin, spokesman for the Ministry of Justice, said yesterday that he was unable to confirm Kemhoeung’s death, but noted that pardon procedures were time-consuming.

“The pardon is made according to a humanitarian policy and the task takes a long time,” he said. “The Ministry of Justice will regret this if it is true.”

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