Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Prisoners tell of lengthy trial delays



Prisoners tell of lengthy trial delays

Prisoners tell of lengthy trial delays

T he plight of women prisoners, many of whom wait years

for their trials, was highlighted by visits by human rights groups and monks as

part of the celebrations this week.

Perhaps one of the saddest sights for

the delegation, and the journalists who went with them, was a two-year-old girl

who was born in T-3 jail and has never seen life outside.

Inside the

other jail visited called PJ, one frail looking 30-year-old prisoner said: "Our

biggest problem here is that we have not even been tried in court

yet."

She has been accused of defaulting on a $100 loan payment and has

been in the detention center for the past six months without trial, though

legally she cannot be so detained for more than 48 hours.

She is typical

of women at the two prisons. Six of the ten women prisoners at T-3 still await

trial, and most have little awareness about what legal redress they can

demand.

When the delegation led by the Venerable Maha Ghosananda and the

Minister for Secretariat of Women's Affairs Keat Sukun stepped into the dingy,

low-roofed women's prison in the PJ compound, the 18 prisoners inside broke down

and cried.

They bowed and prayed with the monks and spoke of their

problems to the other visitors, the first they had had who were not from their

family.

Overcrowding, insufficient food and disease are common

complaints, but Kek Galabru, president of the human rights NGO LICADHO says

women prisoners are generally held in better conditions than men.

"They

are fewer in number, so their rooms are less dirty and crowded, and often they

get more food from the wardens," she says.

Even so, the 18 prisoners in

PJ share a single small room and bath.

"They are given about 200 grams

of rice everyday with soup or vegetables," says Dr Kau Sacha, a doctor with

LICADHO who visits both PJ and T-3 twice a week.

Many have

gastro-enteritis because of untreated water.

Most women prisoners have no

idea when or whether they will be tried.

One forty-year-old woman in T-3

finally had her trial last week after waiting for six years. She was found

guilty of killing her daughter but due to the length of time she has already

served, she will be released within days. The woman protested her innocence to

the delegation, claiming her daughter had committed suicide.

Her's is an

extreme case, most have waited for months before a trial for alleged bribery,

theft or murder.

One 17-year-old in PJ prison is accused of trafficking

in girls for prostitution. Another woman allegedly borrowed a motorcycle she did

not return.

The living conditions at T-3 for women are actually better

than at PJ. Of the ten, five share one large room and four share another, while

one woman described by Dr Kau Sacha as 'depressive' stays alone. She has been

waiting two years and four months for a trial.

T-3 was supplied with food

by UNTAC for a few months, and Galabru says that LICADHO has been offered food

aid from the World Food Program (WFP). It will begin to distribute food in

prisons as soon as adequate storage space is found.

The other major

problem is medicine, for which women usually depend on LICADHO doctors.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and