The director-general of the General Department of Prisons at the Ministry of Interior said while overcrowding remains a pressing issue, positive achievements have been made in the management of the Kingdom’s jails over the past five years.
These included preventing riots in all Cambodian prisons and the transport of prisoners to their court hearings.
Director-general Chan Kimseng presented the findings of a General Department of Prisons five-year performance report and its 2019-23 strategic plan at the Ministry of Interior on Monday.
“We have not had any instances of disorder or riots in Cambodian prisons over the past five years,” Kimseng said in a video on the department’s Facebook page.
He said another positive achievement had been the transporting of prisoners to attend court hearings.
Tens of thousands of summonses were issued last year by the courts to the Kingdom’s correctional facilities ordering officials to bring prisoners to court, he said.
“However, we accept that there have been some problems. Some prisons were careless with security, allowing prisoners to escape,” Kimseng said.
Neither Kimseng nor General Department of Prisons spokesperson Nuth Savna could be reached by The Post for comment on Monday.
But Savna told media after the meeting at the ministry that overcrowding was still the biggest challenge facing Cambodia’s 28 prisons.
“Overcrowding is not a separate problem. It is caused by other factors which need to be addressed as the department tackles the issue. So it is important that we prepare a strategy based on the actual situation,” Fresh News quoted Savna as saying.
Am Sam Ath, deputy director of monitoring at rights group Licadho, said he appreciated that there had been no riots in Cambodian prisons over the past five years.
However, while the prison service had done a decent job transporting prisoners to court, there had been some problems in transporting them from provincial jails to the Appeal Court or Supreme Court in Phnom Penh, he said, resulting in the absence of many at hearings.
“We have seen a lot of absences due to the transportation of [detainees] from provincial prisons to the Appeal Court or Supreme Court. There is more expense in transporting prisoners to hearings at the Appeal Court and Supreme Court, including expenses for prison guards,” Sam Ath said.
He said not attending their hearing could affect the right of the accused to a fair trial as they would not have their voices heard in court.
Overcrowding was the main challenge facing the prison department and it is not the fault of the government, Sam Ath said. He said the government has been looking for solutions to the problem.
He said another issue the prison service should focus on was response times to prisoners’ health problems.
“This must be looked at. Any prisoner with a serious illness should be admitted to hospital straight away,” he said.