The General Department of Prisons has recently started expanding Phnom Penh’s Prey Sar prison to solve its overcrowding problem, a spokesman said yesterday.
Spokesman Nouth Savna said the prison is now undergoing renovation work to add another building and improve the old building’s infrastructure.
He noted that the old building will be retrofitted to have more bunk beds and toilets while a new building will be constructed on its adjoining field.
“It’s true that Prey Sar is overcrowded but our officials are now tackling the problem with alternative solutions,” Mr Savna said. “We are putting in more beds and building more cells so that inmates will have more space.”
Lieutenant General Be Tea Leng, General Prison Department deputy general director, yesterday noted that Prey Sar currently has 7,000 prisoners despite being designed to hold only 2,000.
“Every week, many newcomers arrive here while some are detained behind bars for a long period of time so the number keeps increasing,” he said. “What we can do now is to provide more beds for them.”
A Phnom Penh court official, who asked not to be named, yesterday said that Prey Sar is not able to take in any more inmates, noting that new pre-trial detainees are being sent to Phnom Penh’s Police Judiciary prison that is designed to hold 50 prisoners.
“Prey Sar is now full of inmates and cannot receive any more from Phnom Penh court,” he said. “After the court questions a suspect, he or she will be sent to PJ.”
PJ prison director Chhim Thida could not be reached for comment yesterday.
According to Lt Gen Tea Leng, 28 prisons across Cambodia now house more than 31,000 inmates, an increase of about 20 percent compared to last year. In addition, more than 20,000 inmates are waiting to go through judicial procedures.
Last week, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cambodia Rhona Smith expressed her concern over the prevalence of pre-trail detainees in the country.
She urged the Justice Ministry to encourage judges to use pre-trial detention only when absolutely necessary.
In response, Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin said that officials are looking for ways to solve the problem, including identifying those in pre-trial detention who can be granted bail.