Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Water at Prey Sar back … sort of

Water at Prey Sar back … sort of

Water pipes protrude from the ground during road construction near Prey Sar prison last year that was blamed for water cuts.
Water pipes protrude from the ground during road construction near Prey Sar prison last year that was blamed for water cuts. Heng Chivoan

Water at Prey Sar back … sort of

After nearly a year of dry taps, the water supply at Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison has finally been restored, but inmates are still being forced to pay for the so-called luxury commodity, according to those who live and work there.

The water system was cut last year, according to officials, because of road construction work taking place outside the prison.

Guards and well-connected inmates quickly began selling the trucked-in supply at inflated prices, the Post first reported last August, amid increases in fighting and illness.

But despite the supply being officially restored in recent weeks, staff and inmates at Prey Sar said this week that the situation has not improved.

One prison employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said that until a month ago, “three trucks were supplying the prison with water every day. But it was very expensive, so only prisoners with money could buy it; others had to use the water store, which smelled bad and made them itchy” when they washed with it.

Although the supply has now been restored, the guard said that prison officers were still intentionally giving inmates insufficient amounts of water.

“[Prisoners] are sharing their money with each other to buy the water, because the water provided by staff is not enough,” he said.

The guard added that water inside the prison is being sold for five times the price at which it was purchased.

“Inmates have to have money, because in prison they have to buy everything,” he said. “If they don’t have money, it’s very difficult for them; they can’t get enough food and water.”

A prisoner at Prey Sar who asked not to be named corroborated the guard’s account, arguing that the situation had actually worsened since the supply was restored.

“The electric pumps are turned on for barely 20 minutes a day, so we are getting less water than before. So little that I am spending extra on bottled drinking water,” he said.

Naly Pilorge, director of local rights group Licadho, yesterday described clean water as a “fundamental right for all prisoners”.

“Every prison is responsible for the health of the prisoners detained within its walls, and this healthcare obligation cannot be met if prisoners do not receive, free of charge, sufficient clean water to meet their basic drinking water and sanitation needs,” she said.

Sorn Keo, spokesman for the Interior Ministry’s General Department of Prisons, confirmed that Prey Sar’s water supply had been restored, but declined to comment on reports of extortion.

“I don’t know too much about that, but we always provide them with water,” he said.

Sun Lean, director of Prey Sar’s Correctional Centre 1, could not be reached for comment this week.


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australian police investigating death threat against Kem Ley's widow

    Updated: 10:17am, Friday March 23, 2018 Australian authorities on Thursday confirmed they have launched an investigation into a crudely written death threat sent tothe family of slain political analyst Kem Ley and Victoria state MP Hong Lim. The typed letter, reported to Victoria police last week, is

  • Apparel groups including H&M and Gap urge Cambodia garment industry reform, seek meeting with Hun Sen

    A group representing some of the largest apparel brands in the US and Europe – including Gap, H&M and ASOS – expressed “growing concern” on Tuesday over several controversial labour laws and ongoing court cases against unionists described as restrictive and unjust. In an open letter

  • Hun Sen says Montagnards don’t exist in Cambodia

    Prime Minister Hun Sen once again attacked ex-opposition leader Sam Rainsy for pledging “autonomy” to Montagnards, claiming – seemingly incorrectly – the ethnic minority does not exist in Cambodia. “We respect all minorities such as Jarai, Steang, Phnong, but we have never had Montagnards,” the premier said