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Prison denies radio access to inmates

May Titthara / Khmer Times Share:
Prisoners are legally allowed to get important information from radio and television. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Inmates at Prey Sar prison in Phnom Penh will no longer be able to listen to the radio, according to a social media post by a jailed opposition member, which is an apparent violation of the law.
According to CNRP member Meach Sovannara’s Facebook page, which is managed by his assistant, prison guards will take action from this week on to deprive prisoners from listening to the radio. 
Prey Sar prison guards did not cite clear reasons for the new regulation, which is contrary to the Prison Law.
“Prisoners raised the question whether this action to deprive radios or not allow them to listen to the radio is political as it prevents prisoners from hearing the news,” the post read.
“Why were prison laws made if this regulation violates the law? Is it a regulation from the Interior Ministry or just in Prey Sar prison?”
The post said that news brought prisoners knowledge, which would help them make decisions and better their lives.
“What will our leader do about it?” the post asked of the prime minister in regards to the new rule banning radios.
“Do they think prisoners cannot change? Just let them serve their sentence without providing options for their future and without trying to educate and change their moral mindset?”  
Sun Lean, the director of Prey Sar prison’s Correctional Center 1, could not be reached for comment. 
However Chan Kimseng, the director of the Interior Ministry’s general department of prisons, said the prison’s internal regulations prohibit the use of all kinds of electronics. 
“The law allows them to listen, however this is a regulation of the prison. We’re preparing for them to listen to the news via loudspeakers in their cell,” he said.
According to article 37 of the Prison Law, detainees are allowed to get important news and information from radio and television programs, magazines, newspapers and phone conversations with their family, which are organized by the prison. 
Detainees are allowed to study in the prison library or borrow books for research in order to increase their knowledge.
Am Sam Ath, a senior coordinator for rights group Licadho, said that some prisons previously allowed prisoners to listen to the radio and watch television as well, giving inmates an outlet to reduce stress. 
“If they deprive them of the radio, I think it’s a strict measure that will affect prisoners. They are barred from freedom, but their rights don’t bar them from getting information. I don’t know why prison officials are doing this,” he said. 
According to the ministry’s annual report released on Wednesday, the number of prisoners last year increased more than 20 percent compared with 2015. Overcrowding has become a big problem at some prisons.

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