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

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42