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New Prison for Pursat as Inmate Population Grows

Ven Rathavong / Khmer Time Share:
Interior Minister Sar Kheng speaks during the Interior Ministry’s General Department of Logistics and Finance annual assembly yesterday. KT/Mai Vireak

Interior Minister Sar Kheng announced yesterday that his ministry plans to construct a prison capable of holding 7,000 inmates on an 800 hectare plot of land in Pursat province.
 
“I decided to build a prison called Correctional Center 4 (CC4) in Pursat province,” Mr. Kheng said in a speech during the Interior Ministry’s General Department of Logistics and Finance annual assembly.
 
“[The plot] is not far, only about 30 to 40 kilometers from the province. We could not find any plot of land which has this size nearby the city,” Mr. Kheng said.
 
The contruction of a fence and multiple canals around the land that will become CC4 has already been ordered in an effort to prevent it from sinking further.
 
Despite Mr. Kheng’s plan, the plot itself has been reduced in size by 25 percent due to concessions to nearby residents. The minister ordered the provincial governor to resolve issues with the residents in order to avoid conflict.
 
“We decided to cut [measure] land for them, in order to avoid problems. Now there is no problem and it means that we already have resovled it for them,” he said.  
 
CC4 will accomodate a growing inmate polulation in the Kingdom, which even now is stretching the country’s prisons at their seams.
 
“If the police do not arrest, people say the police are weak. When we arrest many criminals, there are not enough places to put them,” Mr. Kheng said.
 
Interior Ministry officials were tasked by Mr. Kheng with finding a company with technical expertise to build CC4.
 
According to spokesman of the General Department of Prisons, Lieutenant General Nut Savanea, the new Pursat plot was reduced to 600 hectares after the land concessions were given to residents.
 
He added that at present, there are four correctional centers in Cambodia: two in Phnom Penh, one in Kampong Cham and one in Pursat which, due to its age and size, now only houses 181 prisoners.
 
Cambodia’s present population of prisoners will reach 20,000 by the end of this month, Gen. Savanea said. Despite this, Cambodia’s prisons are only designed to house 8,000 to 9,000.
 
“We want to make CC4 an example which can take about 5,000 to 6,000 prisoners and make it become an agricultural prison,” Gen. Savanea said. His ministry plans on offering agricultural training courses for the prisoners in CC4.
 
He said he could not estimate how much it will cost to construct the new prison. The standard budget for the construction of similar-sized prisons in other countries is more than $10 million, he said.
 
After its completion, prisoners from other correctional facilities will be transferred to CC4, Gen. Savanea said, particularly those in provincial prisons near Pursat, in order to make family visits easier.
 
Am Sam Ath, Licadho’s technical supervisor, said the construction of a new prison in Pursat will make it difficult for prisoners’ families to visit. “It could make the relationship between prisoners and their families more isolated,” he said, adding that while the construction of a new prison is a postive step for Cambodia’s prison population, it will not curb crime rates.
 
“Current prisons are full and crime is incresing, but constrcuting a new prison cannot resolve this issue,” he said.
 
Prisoners guilty of misdemeanor crimes should be released on  bail in order to reduce the number of people in prison, he added.
 
“Many crimes are casued by drugs, so the government should find a solution to prevent all kinds of drug crimes,” he said.
 
 

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