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Prison director denies abuse

Mom Kunthear / Khmer Times Share:
Radio Free Asia alleges that wires and electric batons are used to make prisoners confess. Supplied

The chief of the Banteay Meanchey provincial prison has denied allegations of inmate torture, amid calls from a local rights official for an investigation.
Prison director Oung Siphan, through a clarification letter issued on Monday, challenged a foreign radio broadcast that alleged provincial prison officials tortured male prisoners.
He said that in compliance with the Prison Law and the Criminal Code, the Banteay Meanchey provincial prison, correctional centers and prisons across the country are inspected by prosecutors as well as the relevant units to prevent torture, violence, immorality, degrading treatment or punishment.
According to claims made by detainees at the Banteay Meanchey provincial prison who were interviewed by Radio Free Asia on March 21, prison officials tortured male prisoners and treated them like animals. Prisoners were hit with shoes, kicked and slapped almost every day, they claimed.
“When prison officials interrogate, they take wires and electric batons to shock prisoners into confessing. If they refuse to answer, they are beaten unconscious a few times a day,” an anonymous prisoner said on the program.
“They also restrict their rights and do not easily allow prisoners to leave the detention room.”
Mr. Siphan said prison officials did not restrict inmates’ rights.
“Every day detainees are allowed to get fresh air, exercise, play sports, make handicrafts, read books in the library, study and get permission to meet relatives or friends four days a week – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday,” he said.
More than 1,300 detainees, including more than 100 women and foreigners, are detained at the Banteay Meanchey provincial prison.
Soum Chankea, the provincial coordinator for local rights group Adhoc, said yesterday it was difficult to check on inmates at the provincial prison because it was a time-consuming process to schedule meetings with them.
He added that inmates had phoned him from inside the prison in 2015 and 2016, claiming they had been tortured.
“We think that if they were not tortured or mistreated, they would not speak out. I think prosecutors should check and conduct an investigation on prison officials over these allegations,” Mr. Chankea said.
He said prisoners are not animals, but humans who have had their freedom taken away while being incarcerated. However, they can still speak out when something happens unfairly to them.
Mr. Chankea expressed concern that prisoners would be subjected to further torture.

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