The National Commission for the Evaluation of Prisoners yesterday selected 90 inmates out of 512 prisoners to either be pardoned by the King or have their sentences reduced to mark next month’s Water Festival.
Justice Ministry spokesman Kim Santepheap yesterday said that after reviews, 90 prisoners, including 17 women, were selected to be pardoned or have their sentences reduced.
“Ten prisoners, including two women, will be fully pardoned. Fifty-eight prisoners, including 13 women, will have their sentences reduced by six months,” Mr Santepheap said. “Fourteen, including one woman, will have their sentences reduced by nine months, and eight, including one woman, will have their sentences reduced by 12 months.”
A total of 512 prisoners in 23 provincial prisons and four correctional centres requested clemency to mark the festival next month.
Inmates generally have three periods to make the request: 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.
Lieutenant General Nouth Savna, spokesman for the General Department of Prisons, said that the NCEP should have selected most of the 512 inmates.
“I think that the number of prisoners selected is still lower than 20 percent,” Lt Gen Savna said.
He said that high-level officials should trust their lower officials because before the names of the 512 prisoners were forwarded to the NCEP, the inmates had already been evaluated.
“The NCEP should have selected 70 to 80 percent of the 512 prisoners,” Lt Gen Savna said, noting that more than 36,000 inmates, including more than 2,500 women and about 2,000 minors, remain behind bars nationwide.
“Now, the number of prisoners keeps increasing, so the prisons are overcrowded,” Lt Gen Savna added.
Am Sam Ath, monitoring manager of human right group Licadho, said that land and human right activists, or political activists, have never been among the inmates reviewed to be pardoned.
“I have never seen a land, human rights or political activist selected to be pardoned or have their sentence reduced,” Mr Sam Ath said.