The General Department of Prisons (GDP) has made a request to the Ministry of Interior seeking to officially redesignate more than 3,000 prison officials from civil servants to that of the National Police in order to raise their pension to the higher rate received by the latter.
GDP spokesman Nuth Savana told The Post that the prison officials had asked for a “transfer of framework” from the civilian office to the police force to more properly reflect their job responsibilities.
“Even though we are officials of the armed forces, until now, the ranks or organisation of the framework have been in accordance with the civil service framework and, in fact, we have been [classified] under the National Police,” he said.
The “transfer of framework” proposal was made by the GDP to protect the interests of prison officials when they retire, Savana said, acknowledging that it was a “big request” that “needs to be addressed to protect the interests of officials because the pension of civil servants is lower than that of police officials.”
The spokesman added that prison officials “work hard” and often clocked in overtime whilst facing “many problems” in their working life, and that if and when they retire, the pension would be less than the police, “so it is unfair for them to [have to make that] sacrifice.”
He said the department had additionally made a request for additional officials due to a number of retired staff passing away or losing their ability to work, leading to a lack of reserve staff that could be called upon. Savana said that the number of prison officials had become disproportionate to that of detainees in recent years.
He said that in the past, interior minister Sar Kheng had also supported the transfer of framework. More than 3,000 prison officials across the country have requested the reclassification.
Kheng held a meeting on April 20 with the GDP to discuss ways in which the request could be facilitated.
Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group LICADHO, said the request from prison officials on the framework transfer was an “internal matter” and a decision that lay with the management. But he said it was a positive sign that prison officials have not yet voiced an inability to cope with the increase in the number of inmates.
“Currently, prison officials are disproportionate to the number of detainees due to the increasing number of the latter. Thus, officials have a lot of work, which affects the detainees due to the lack of response and attention [from officials]. In addition, some officials have reached retirement age, leading to a lack of prison guards, which is a concern for security in prisons,” he said.
Sam Ath suggested that the government should have a mechanism to reduce prison overcrowding, such as out-of-court sentences including release on parole, which he said may reduce the burden on prison officials.