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Pardons Being Processed for Khmer New Year

Ros Chanveasna / Khmer Times Share:

The government is considering candidates who are eligible for Royal pardons and sentence reductions ahead of Khmer New Year.  
Nut Savenea, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Prisons, said discussions about pardons are ongoing.
“Regarding this issue, the national committee is now assessing and discussing the amnesty and reduction for prisoners’ sentences – closely examining them case by case,” he said.
He declined to disclose the number of inmates who may get released.  
Late last year, Prime Minister Hun Sen called on members of the interior and justice ministries, who are in charge of forming the list of inmates to be pardoned, to end the practice of pardoning inmates with histories of robbery and drug trafficking.
The prime minister was concerned that these inmates would return to lives of crime if they were released after a string of robberies late last year were committed by men who had recently been pardoned.
NGOs have also said that previously, prisoners were able to buy their way out of prison via prison directors, offering kickbacks in exchange for glowing reviews to add to their prisoner file.
Mr. Savenea said this year the committee would not pardon any inmates convicted of robbery or drug-related crimes.
“As Samdech Hun Sen said, the committee has no principle to grant them [people convicted of robbery and drug charges] a pardon,” he said.
General Be Tea Leng, director of the Ministry of Interior’s Prison Department, was unable to comment yesterday on the number of inmates who will be released from prisons.
According to the law, prisoners who are eligible for release are those who have already served two-thirds of their prison sentence, while those who are granted sentence reductions will have their prison terms shortened by one third.  
After the committees’ decision, inmates are placed on a list that is then sent to local authorities, who in turn examine and submit names to the Ministry of Justice, which then sends each pardon through to the King by way of Prime Minister Hun Sen. Only after the King signs the document is a pardon official.
King Norodom Sihamoni grants royal pardons and clemency to prisoners on special occasions, including Khmer New Year, Visak Bochea Day and the last Water Festival.

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