Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Woman prisoner finds no happiness...

Woman prisoner finds no happiness...

Woman prisoner finds no happiness...

S ITTING on a wooden slat bed with three other women prisoners, Keo Ratha, 29, shyly averted her eyes and occasionally covered her face with her hands.

She was obviously embarrassed with all the attention and fuss surrounding the visitor to her cell in Phnom Penh's Police Judiciary prison last week - that of Justice Michael Kirby.

Had she realized the immaculately-suited Australian was actually the UN's special representative for Human Rights in Cambodia, even Ratha might have found the courage to speak out.

Had she done so, Kirby would have heard a tale that would probably have caused him to cover his own face.

Ratha has been kept in prison for four months so far, without being charged or having seen the inside of a court, she said.

A divorcee with two children aged nine and four, she lived in Memot, near the Vietnamese border in Kampong Cham province.

In July, she lent a man in Memot five chi (about $230). He had borrowed from Ratha twice before and always paid her back but this time, she said, he did not.

The man told her she must travel with him on a moto-taxi to Phnom Penh, where he would repay her the money in full.

They arrived in Kampong Cham and the man told Ratha to stay there for a while and have lunch with the moto-driver. She said the man then stole the motorcycle and did not return.

Ratha said the moto-driver was angry, accused her of being an accomplice and took her to the police to be arrested and taken to Phnom Penh - her first time in the capital.

She was adamant that she committed no crime and had no idea the man was planning to take the motorcycle.

Ratha had left her children in the care of her elderly mother and she had been unable to get a message through to them. She said for all she knew her mother and children probably thought she was dead.

She had been told that she would not get to court and plead her case for another two months.

Kirby talked briefly to the four women prisoners during his visit but did not hear the details of their crimes or arrest. Ratha's story emerged only after he left. Kirby's parting wish to the four was that they eventually put their incarceration behind them and "enjoy a happy life."

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

  • Schools drawn into Manet degree row

    Prime Minister Hun Sen stepped into the Hun Manet-Sam Rainsy war of words over the validity of Manet’s degree from the US Military Academy at West Point, set off by Rainsy’s claims that Manet had received a “second-class degree” or “honorary degree”. Hun

  • 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