Minister of Interior Sar Kheng on Sunday suggested officials of the ministries of Interior and Justice, and the Phnom Penh Municipal Hall discuss the segregation of detainees and convicts, particularly those convicted of drug offences.
During the 14th International Traffic Accident Victims’ Day held in Koh Pich district, Phnom Penh, Sar Kheng said drug convicts placed in the same prison as non-drug convicts could influence the latter to be involved in drugs as well.
“When we mix drug convicts with non-drug convicts, the non-drug convicts could become future drug addicts as well. So, all of them will turn into drug addicts.
“The General Department of Prisons has to assess the issue and enforce prison segregation to solve the problem. The Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Justice and the Phnom Penh Municipal Hall will discuss which actions to take to separate drug convicts from non-drug convicts,” Sar Kheng said.
He also ordered all concerned authorities not to be complacent with anti-drug work, but to be more diligent in combating drug crimes.
If drug trafficking persists in our society, more problems will arise. So, it must be eliminated, he said.
“We have to ensure the authorities confiscate the drugs. If a tonne of drugs is trafficked into our society, we’ll be facing a myriad of problems such as cases of robbery, full-scale corruption, money laundering, and terrorism,” he said.
Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak told The Post on Monday that due to overcrowding in Phnom Penh prisons, the facilities had to send all detainees and convicts to correctional centres where only convicts are placed.
“As can be seen, convicted criminals and the detainees who have yet to receive a final verdict are placed in the same prison.
“Drug offenders, murderers, burglars, and those in debt are housed in the same place. We must separate them based on felony and misdemeanor cases,” Sopheak said.
However, the director-general of the General Department of Prisons at the Interior Ministry, Chan Kimseng, said there were only a few instances where detainees and convicts were placed together in prison cells due to overcrowding.
Kimseng also denied that drug convicts with non-drug convicts were housed together. He clarified that it would be difficult for drug prisoners to have access to drugs due to the tight security at prisons.
Phnom Penh Municipal Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey said the Municipal Hall was in talks to address prison overcrowding and ways to improve prison conditions.
General Department of Prisons spokesman Nouth Savna previously told The Post that there were more than 36,600 detainees in prisons across the Kingdom. Of the number, more than 3,000 were women with many of them charged with drug offences.
Correctional Center 1 or “M1” currently holds 9,450 detainees while Correctional Center 2 (M2) which is more commonly known as Prey Sar prison, has 1,855 detainees.