Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ratanakkiri prison director accused of abuses

Ratanakkiri prison director accused of abuses

Ratanakkiri prison director accused of abuses

Dozens of officials at Ratanakkiri Provincial Prison have called for the director of the facility to be removed, citing a wide range of violations, including having sex with a female inmate, permitting unsanctioned prison labour and pocketing money paid in exchange for benefits.

The four-page complaint, which was signed by 32 of the prison’s staff on December 6, calls on the Interior Ministry’s general department of prisons (GDP) to investigate and ultimately dismiss Tin Sovanny.

Among issues detailed in the complaint are claims that Sovanny allowed 65 inmates to work outside of the prison as chefs and in other trades, and used female prisoners to clean his own home and serve as waitresses at weddings.

The officials also accused Sovanny of having sex with one female inmate on multiple occasions, with payment made at least once.

“The prisoners were allowed to use mobile phones, [and they could] change rooms from block B to block A by paying from $200 to thousands of dollars, according to whether they were rich or poor,” the complaint adds.

“He collected electricity fees from the cells equipped with TVs and fans of 500,000 to 600,000 riel [around $123 to $148] per month [and kept it] for himself.”

One of the officials who filed the complaint said in an interview yesterday that Sovanny had a hot temper and frequently bullied and threatened his staff.

“He looked down on us, threatened to fire and jail us,” said the official, who declined to be named. “He serves only his family’s interest.”

Chhay Thy, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, said he received a complaint from an inmate’s relatives earlier this year alleging that they had to pay $20 for each visit.

“Outside of the complaint, we have heard that 10,000 to 20,000 riel [$2.50 to $5] is demanded for prison visits. Demanding money has become a culture and habit across [prisons in] Cambodia,” he said.

Sovanny was promoted to the role of prison director in 2014 after a number of inmates escaped while working outside of the facility under then-director Ngin Nel. Nut Savana, spokesman and deputy director of the GDP, said the department was investigating the claims.

“A team has gone there; the result will be known on Monday [today] and appropriate measures will follow,” he said.

Sovanny said he was too busy to comment yesterday.

A separate senior official, who declined to be named, dismissed the accusations as a smear campaign.

“It is aimed at damaging his reputation,” he said. “I am not just taking my boss’s side – [the complainants] want benefits since they believe that the boss gets more benefits. Another thing is it’s a power struggle.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Banteay Meanchey gunfight sees 15 Thais arrested, three officers injured

    The Banteay Meanchey Military Police have arrested 15 Thai suspects and their accomplices after a gun battle between two Thai groups caused injuries to three police officers in the early hours of November 21, local authorities said. National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said that according to

  • PM: Do not defile Tonle Sap swamp forest or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered police to arrest anyone – including government officials – involved with the deforestation of the flooded forests surrounding the Tonle Sap Lake because it is an area important to the spawning of many species of fish, among other reasons. Speaking in a