The National Commission for the Evaluation of Prisoners will hold a meeting today to determine how much clemency to give to 500 inmates who have applied to be pardoned or have their sentences reduced to mark the upcoming Water Festival.
Inmates generally have three periods to request to be pardoned: Khmer New Year in April, the Water Festival in November and Visak Bochea Day in May. However, in a bid to reduce overcrowding prisons, the government last year decided to extend the periods to review pardon requests during Pchum Ben in October, Independence Day in November and Win-Win Policy Day in December.
Justice Ministry spokesman Kim Santepheap yesterday said Minister Ang Vong Vathana, who chairs the national commission, will lead the evaluation meeting in Phnom Penh today.
“The commission received the applications of 512 inmates, including 58 females, who have applied for clemency during the Water Festival,” Mr Santepheap said.
He noted the prisoners are from 23 provincial prisons and four Interior Ministry administered correctional facilities.
“All of them are criminals who come from various prisons across the Kingdom,” Mr Santepheap said.
Lieutenant General Be Tea Leng, deputy director-general of the Interior Ministry’s General Department of Prisons, yesterday said the NCEP last year selected more than 100 prisoners to receive clemency during Water Festival.
“The National Commission for the Evaluation of Prisoners decided to select more than 100 prisoners from around the country,” Lt Gen Tea Leng said.
According to a report by the General Prison Department in March, a total of 31,686 people were detained in prisons last year, including 1,262 foreigners.
Mr Santepheap said that to be able to request for clemency, a convict must have served one-third of their term for sentence reductions, and two-thirds for pardons.
When asked whether or not CNRP activists are on the Water Festival clemency request list, Mr Santepheap said no.
“No words are describing that any of those prisoners were CNRP activists or members,” he said.
Kin Phea, director-general of the International Relations Institute at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, yesterday said the government would not consider clemency requests made by CNRP activists.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan said prisoners can only qualify to receive a pardon or have their sentence reduced only if they have “corrected their attitudes”.
During Khmer New Year in April, King Norodom Sihamoni gave full pardons to 134 out of about 500 prisoners from across the Kingdom.
Mr Santepheap said at the time that the rest received reduced sentences.