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Royal pardon appeals rejected

Khuon Narim / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Preference for sentence reductions was given to prisoners who showed good behaviour. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Ministry of Justice has rejected 39 prisoners’ request for a royal pardon to mark the upcoming Visak Bochea festival, or Buddha Day.
No reason was given for the decision in the ministry’s short statement yesterday.
“The National Committee has decided not to grant any amnesties but 35 prisoners have had their sentences reduced out of the 235 who asked for a reduction,” it said.
It is an annual tradition for King Norodom Sihamoni to grant some prisoners a royal pardon during the Visak Bochea festival, as well as during the Khmer New Year.
Ministry spokesman Kim Santepheap said most of those seeking either royal pardons or reductions in their sentences had been guilty of minor offences.
The ones with the best chance of receiving favourable treatment were the best behaved. This includes prisoners who have improved their attitude and acted lawfully while serving their sentences,” he said.
“Those are the prisoners with the best chance of receiving a pardon or having their sentence reduced.”
Last year, Prime Minister Hun Sen called on the Ministry of Justice to no longer include prisoners who had committed drug trafficking or armed robbery to avoid the chance of them returning to crime.
Prisoners are eligible for a royal pardon if they have already served two thirds of their sentence, while those being considered for reduced sentences could have their prison term cut by up to one third.
Am Sam Ath, spokesman for human rights group Licadho, said royal pardons and reduced sentences had declined in the last few years since Mr Hun Sen ruled out amnesties for those guilty of drug trafficking or armed robbery.
He said in the past it was common for 300-500 prisoners to seek a royal pardon or reduction in their sentence.
Mr Sam Ath called on prison authorities to create training centres where prisoners could develop new skills and be helped to rehabilitate for life in the outside world.
“Currently there is no education centre or training facility where prisoners can be helped to become good citizens and not reoffend when they get out of prison,” he said.

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