The vaccination of prisoners against Covid-19 is likely to be completed by the end of the month as only 5,000 inmates still need to get vaccinated, according to General Department of Prisons (GDP) spokesman Nouth Savna.

Savna told The Post on August 16 that medical teams were administering the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines to the remaining inmates in seven provincial prisons.

“Our teams are moving from one province to another to vaccinate inmates. Tomorrow we will be in Kampong Thom province then Banteay Meanchey and so on. We have not finalised when vaccinations will be completed, but possibly by the end of August,” he said.

Savna said GDP had vaccinated over 73 per cent of the more than 37,000 prisoners nationwide.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group Licadho, said Covid-19 was spreading in the community and in some prisons, leading to the deaths of inmates. He said despite efforts to vaccinate inmates, prison conditions remain a worrying issue.

“Prisons are very overcrowded, so there is a high risk that Covid-19 can spread quickly. The cells that hold inmates are now very cramped.

“The Delta variant is also spreading in the community, so if this variant transmits into prisons, it will present an even greater risk,” he said.

Sam Ath said Licadho still insists that courts and the Ministry of Justice expedite the ministry’s decision to grant bail to prisoners who have almost completed their sentences. They should also consider cases in which detainees have been placed in pre-trial detention and could be released on bail.

Those who could be released on bail, he suggested, include at-risk detainees such as the chronically ill, those with disabilities, pregnant women and mothers with children.

These measures would help to reduce prison overcrowding and facilitate the management of the spread of Covid-19 in prisons.