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Ministry of Justice Evaluates Potential Prison Pardons Ahead of Holiday

PHNOM PENH: Minister of Justice Keut Rith, chaired a meeting to review and evaluate the list of potential sentences to be commuted and pardoned on January 7, when Cambodia celebrates its liberation from the Khmer Rouge regime.

On the morning of December 26, the Justice Minister reviewed a list of 398 inmates, including 38 women, in 23 capital-provincial prisons and four correctional facilities. Those on the list may be among the lucky when the Cambodian government continues its tradition of commuting prison sentences on major holidays such as Khmer New Year, Water Festival and Independence Days.

According to Minister of Interior Sar Sokha, there are more than 40,000 people imprisoned in Cambodia, including more than 2,000 women, 51% of whom are locked up for drug charges. The Minister made the remarks during the inauguration of a new rehab facility in Poipet on December 18. He said that between 50 and 60 people enter prison each day, while only a small number leaving the prison.

According to a UN Human Rights Council report issued in 2021, Cambodia's prison population had doubled since 2015, with 38,977 inmates in facilities that can hold up to 8,804, meaning that the prisons are operating at 343% capacity. The report also said that prisons lack of beds, drinking water and fresh air, which Amnesty International has called “a ticking time bomb.”

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