Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Scores of adults, children released from Prey Speu




Scores of adults, children released from Prey Speu

Detained people sit around the grounds of the notorious Prey Speu centre situated on the outskirts of Phnom Penh in 2015.
Detained people sit around the grounds of the notorious Prey Speu centre situated on the outskirts of Phnom Penh in 2015. Pha Lina

Scores of adults, children released from Prey Speu

The Ministry of Social Affairs yesterday claimed it had released scores of people from the notorious Prey Speu detention centre into the hands of NGOs, including children who had been detained without their parents for months on end.

Director of the municipal social affairs department Sorn Sophal said 58 people were handed over to Mith Samlanh, Plan International and Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (PSE) on January 16, though the latter two NGOs denied having accepted detainees.

“The youngest one is 5 years old . . . We rounded them up off the street because they were beggars and homeless and we sent them to Prey Speu,” Sophal said. “Now we found the NGO for them to stay with; now we integrate them.”

Im Sreypao, a project reintegration manager at Mith Samlanh, said they had taken in 39 people – 10 of them unattended children. She said nine boys immediately left the centre without taking any of the prepared food. “We didn’t even get a chance to find their parents for them; they wanted to leave, so we cannot force them to stay here,” she said.

She added they had given medical treatment to an 8-year-old girl who had developed a skin infection at the centre after she was plucked from Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich more than two months ago, and also helped her find her parents

Sreypao said the organisation had reunited 12 families with their relatives and provided them with food and counselling. “I saw they are very happy and they smile when they got out of the centre,” she said.

“Now they have freedom; now they can live as humans.” But at least 19 people remain unaccounted for, as Plan International and PSE said they did not take in any people from Prey Speu.

Iman Mooroka, spokesperson for UNICEF, said “children should not be separated from their families except under extreme circumstances”.

“The streets are clearly no place for children, however, taking children off the streets and placing them in an institution not suitable for children is not the solution,” she said.

Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson slammed the continued involuntary detention of Phnom Penh’s so-called “undesirables”.

“There is something fundamentally wrong with the brains of the officials overseeing this process of arrest and detention that they think it is somehow OK to separate kids from their parents and force them to stay in this hellhole of a centre.”

MOST VIEWED

  • School reopening to be postponed until November

    Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting a delay of school reopening across the Kingdom until November, when the new academic year begins. In his letter, Chuon Naron said the postponement is warranted to avoid the new

  • Foreigners in Kingdom must now register in FPCS system

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) announced that it would not grant visa extensions to foreigners staying in Cambodia if their names are not listed on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by July 1. Foreign nationals can register in the

  • Covid-19 at ‘alarming rate’, health ministry says

    The Covid-19 risk level for individual transmission is at an “alarming rate” in the Kingdom and its probability is “not low”, warned Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine. “Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing

  • Mandatory quarantine for 30,000 workers begins

    Some of the roughly 30,000 workers from factories and enterprises across the Kingdom who went on leave during Khmer New Year began their government-imposed 14-day quarantine on Monday. Speaking at a press conference while visiting workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Monday, Ministry

  • Unemployed to get $40 per month

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has instructed enterprises, business owners and travel agencies in five provinces to prepare the proper forms for the suspension of employment contracts. This, it said, will make it easier for the ministry to transfer $40 a month to workers

  • Gov’t travel ban flouted

    While the majority of Cambodians have paid heed to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to stay put and not travel during the Khmer New Year – the holidays of which were also postponed – several hundred have left Phnom Penh nonetheless. They have allegedly breached provincial

  • G20 energy ministers struggle to finalise oil output cuts

    Top oil producers struggled to finalise production cuts during a virtual summit held by Group of 20 (G20) energy ministers on Friday, despite US President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts to end a standoff with Mexico. The final G20 communique appeared to gloss over simmering divisions

  • Kingdom revises travel restriction order

    The government on Friday eased the district and provincial border restrictions issued on Thursday. People are now allowed to cross districts within their provinces. Phnom Penh and Kandal province are to be treated as a single region where people are allowed to travel freely. In

  • Private schools struggling

    The Cambodian Higher Education Association has claimed that 113 private educational establishments are facing bankruptcy because of their inability to pay rent and staff salaries in light of nationwide school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. It said the financial trouble started when the Ministry of

  • Khmer New Year holidays postponed

    In an effort to halt Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has postponed the Khmer New Year holidays scheduled from April 13 to 16. While the people will not have their usual break, nor will there be any public celebrations or gatherings at pagodas,