Cambodian prisons mired in squalor, corruption: report

Occupancy stands at 161 percent at monitored jails with poor health facilities, lack of food and water among concerns.

Cambodian prisons mired in squalor, corruption: report
World Bulletin / News Desk
 
Cambodia’s prison system is rife with abuse, overcrowding, corruption and exploitation, according to a report released Tuesday by a local human rights NGO.

The greatest concerns "characterize the entire Cambodian prison system" and include -- but are not limited to -- squalor, lack of food and water and health facilities that are in a "dire state," warned Licadho, which monitors 18 of the 27 prisons in operation.

Occupancy across the monitored prisons stands at 161 percent, with 13,504 people incarcerated as of November 2014, according to Licadho data. Figures released by the general Department of Prisons in December of last year put the total number at 15,168.

In a statement accompanying the report, Licadho’s director Naly Pilorge said, "Cambodian authorities should respect and protect the rights of prisoners, but in reality inmates’ rights are violated on a regular basis."

There is no semblance of rehabilitation, according to the report, which criticizes the dangers of the environment for juveniles, who do not have their own dedicated judicial or prison system and are often detained among the adult population.

By law, a child can remain with a parent until reaching the age of three and as of October 2014, there were 35 children in such situations.

"Sadly, prison authorities are far too willing to abdicate their protection responsibilities for economic gain and political favour," Pilorge said.

An example in the study describes the treatment of one prisoner, who was only allowed out of her cell after 10 days upon paying a $50 bribe to the prison guards. Her family reportedly also had to pay $20 to visit her.

Questionable labor practices also plague the system, with some inmates being made to construct two new provincial prisons without pay and proper safety equipment. Allegations of torture continue to be leveled against the authorities.

The report calls for an end to "unwarranted restrictions" on access to certain places of detention, pressing for opportunities for independent monitors to visit any and all places of detention -- including police cells and drug rehabilitation centers -- around the country.

It stresses that courts need to consider alternatives to custodial sentences where possible.

It adds: "Secondly, there needs to be a shift away from the dominant factors which currently determine prison life, namely the normalization of corruption, the influence of powerful cell leadership structures and the almost complete lack of accountability."

Kuy Bunsorn, director-general of the General Department of Prisons, could not be reached for comment.

 

Last Mod: 20 Ocak 2015, 17:43
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