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PRISONS IN CAMBODIA
Human Rights and Cambodia’s Prisons
Human rights conditions in Cambodian prisons have deteriorated on several fronts, due in large part to the increasing prison population. Since 1997, the population has grown at a steady rate. In one year alone, from 2000 to 2001, the prison population increased by 10%, that is 471 more inmates than the previous year. As at December 2003, the total population of prisoners in Cambodian prisons was 5711 individuals (in the 18 prison monitored by LICADHO). Of these the majority were men: Male adults 91.2% - Females 3.7% - Minors 5.1%

The UN Special Representative to Cambodia observed that the overcrowding problem in Cambodian prisons has changed little in the past eight years. · The prison population has increased from 2933 in December 1998 to 5711 in December 2003 - an increase of 95%. However, the number of prisons has not increased to deal with this increasing number Overcrowding in 2002 was a particular problem in Kompong Thom, Battambang, Sihanoukville and Banteay Meanchay prisons (exceeding maximum capacity by 317%, 107%, 84% and 50% respectively)
This leads to many problems. For example:

  • In 2003 at one point nine prisoners were shackled together outdoors for 23.5 hours a day in Kompong Thom prison due to overcrowding
  • Prisoners are often transferred to less crowded prisons which means they are located far from their families upon whom they rely for much needed provisions and support
  • Some inmates are denied the required one hour out of their cell a day because of security concerns created by overcrowding.

Overcrowding remains a serious problem, in particular at Kompong Thom, Banteay Meanchey, and in Sihanoukville, where the prison population has grown considerably since the 1999 report. Attempts to alleviate overcrowding have been undertaken such as rebuilding existing facilities, but it remains a grave problem. For example, in Kompong Thom prison, each prisoner has approximately 0. 93 m2 living space, which marks a decrease from 1.70 m2 in 1998. This prison was designed to accommodate 40 persons according to the director; in 2001 it is shared by 120 inmates, triple its capacity.

Overcrowding also contributed to the lack of recreational time had by prisoners. Prisoners are entitled to one hour a day outside their cell. However, in practice some do not receive even this. The worst prisons are CC1 , PJ, Kandal and Kompong Thom. In CC1 during 2002, around 400 prisoners out of 1377 prisoners were let out each weekday for one hour. This meant they only get out every 3 to 4 days. In Kandal prison new prisoners were not being let out of the cell for one month because they had to pay for recreational time.

The Health situation in Cambodian Prisons is very poor. Prisoners have limited access to medical care. The health care provided by the official prison staff fails to meet the minimum standards set out in domestic and international law. Prison health workers receive only basic nursing training. In 2002, in one prison, a guard was fulfilling the role of medical officer with no medical training at all. A large percentage of diseases are preventable through a reduction in overcrowding, improved hygiene and facilities, provision of safe water and provision of a nutritionally adequate diet.
In the 12 prisons visited by LICADHO Medical Team:

  • 51% of diseases were infectious diseases
  • 18% were sanitation related
  • In 2001- 2002 the 2nd most common diagnosis was beri beri.
Inadequate funding makes it impossible to obtain a healthy diet. The prison authorities are allocated just 1000 riel a day ($0.25) to meet all the needs of an individual prisoner. Prisoners often rely on family members to bring additional food. Due to the remote locations of some prisons and the high costs for families to visit this is often not possible.

Many families are not able to visit their family members in prison due to distance or an inability to pay the various payments they are made to pay, in contravention of Cambodian prison regulations and international standards. For example a visit to CC1 can cost 23,000 Riels ($5.75) in such payments, a huge sum for most Cambodians.

Following is a list of known prisons in Cambodia.

  • Banteay Meanchey prison
  • Battambang prison
  • Kampot prison
  • Kandal prison
  • Koh Kong prison
  • Kongpong Cham prison
  • Kompoong Chhnang prison
  • Kompong Speu prison
  • Kampong Thom prison
  • Police Judicial (PJ)
  • Pursat prison
  • Siem Reap prison
  • Sihanoukville prison
  • Svay Rieng prison
  • Preah Vihear prison
  • Stung Treng prison
  • Kratie prison
  • Mondulkiri prison
  • Ratanakiri prison
  • Prey Veng prison
  • Correctional Center 2 (CC 1- the Prey Sar prison for women and children)
  • Correctional Center 1 (CC1 –formerly known as T3)
  • Correctional Center 1 (CC1 formerly known as T3)
  • Takeo Correctional Center 3 (CC3 also known as Trapaing Plong)
  • Toul Sleng (military prison in Phnom Penh)
  • PRISONERS & PRISONERS EXPERIENCES
    Bangkok Bangkwang Prison (Northanburi) - Thailand
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    Name Country Arrest/Sentence Age at Arrest Building Additional Information
    Gordon Vuong Australian Arrested Jan 05 with 2kg heroin. Sentenced 13 years in May 2005. 16 Phnom Penh Vuong is detained at Correctional Centre-2 for juveniles on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. He shares a 4mx8m cell with 32 men. Read more at campaign page
    Case Study #1 - The following case study, based on victim testimony, illustrates some aspects of excessive pre-trial detention in Cambodia’s prisons.
    An example of excessive pre-trial is the case of a young man aged 17 when he was arrested on March 30, 2000 and charged with robbery. The investigating judge concluded his investigation and sent the case to be assigned to a trial judge on October 9, 2000, yet the man was not brought to trial by Phnom Penh Municipal court until September 24, 2001, nearly 18 months after his date of arrest. This is in strict violation of Cambodian Prison Procedure 34.2, Section 5, which states that minors 13-18 years of age should not be held in pre-trial detention for more than one month, or two months if the minor is charged with a crime
  • Click Here for complete story....
  • Case Study #2 - The following case study details the particular conditions experienced by Cambodian Freedom Fighters.
    A violent attack on several government buildings in Phnom Penh by alleged CFF members on November 24, 2000 led to numerous arrests, both on the night of the attack and in subsequent weeks and months. Dozens of alleged CFF members were detained in successive waves of arrests, and charged with offences related to terrorism, illegal weapons possession or membership of an illegal armed group. While in pre-trial detention, nearly all of the accused were held in virtual incommunicado detention, without access to human rights workers and, in many cases, their own defense lawyers and family members.
  • Click Here for complete story....
  • Torture In Prisons
    The amount of reported torture committed by prison guards has remained relatively low for several years, although it has by no means been eradicated. Torture appears to be primarily used in prisons as a punishment for alleged breaches of discipline or security, particularly escape attempts, by inmates. But torture may also be used for other purposes, and new inmates may be particularly vulnerable. The prolonged use of shackles – which are prohibited under Cambodian law – is the most common type of torture.11 International law, through the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which was passed by the United Nations Congress in 1955, also renders illegal the use of these instruments of restraint.

    Article 33 states: "Instruments of restraint, such as handcuffs, chains, irons and straitjackets, shall never be applied as a punishment. Furthermore, chains or irons shall not be used as restraints."

    Shackles were used in Sihanoukville and Kompong Thom prisons during 2001. Almost one third of the prisoners who reported torture in prison were detained in Sihanoukville prison. A particular issue of concern in Sihanoukville prison, based on prisoner interviews conducted over several years, is the practice of new prisoners being beaten or kicked soon after their arrival at the prison – this introduction to the prison is apparently an attempt to ‘soften up’ new prisoners and make them submissive to prison guards. LICADHO raised this practice with the prison director, who promised to put an end to it.

    Cambodian criminal law and prison regulations clearly prohibit torture for any reason, including as a punishment, but no prison official has been convicted of torture for a decade. A test case, involving the prosecution of five Kompong Cham prison guards for allegedly severely torturing five prisoners (including knocking them unconscious with metal hoes) in December 1999, had yet to go to trial by 2001. Cambodian Prison Procedure 25.1, Section 3-5: "Handcuffs must never be used as punishment. Handcuffs are only to be used when authorized by the Prison Chief and must not be applied for any longer period of time than is strictly necessary. Handcuffs are only to be used to prevent a prisoner from injuring themselves, or others. "

    NEWS & RESOURCES
  • Imprisoned - Life Inside One of Cambodia’s Worst Prisons

  • LICADHO Report on Prison Conditions in Cambodia

  • LICADHO Report on Prison Health Conditions in Cambodia

  • Children in Prison in Cambodia

  • Maps of Cambodia
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    All information is © Copyright 1997 - 2003 'Foreign Prisoner Support Service' unless stated otherwise - Click here for the legal stuff
    All information is © Copyright 1997 - 2003 'Foreign Prisoner Support Service' unless stated otherwise - Click here for the legal stuff