The Ministry of Justice on Sunday rejected a joint statement released by human rights groups Amnesty International and Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (Licadho) which called for the release of 10,000 prisoners to mitigate risks of possible COVID-19 outbreaks behind bars.
It said the points raised by the NGOs were grounded on the evident distortion of statements made by government officials.
In a statement released on July 23, the Amnesty International and Licadho said: “In a speech on May 27, Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng spoke on the need to address prison overcrowding, giving the example that up to 10,000 prisoners could be released from different prison facilities across Cambodia.”
In response, Justice Ministry spokesman Chin Malin, through a correspondence with Khmer Times today, rebuffed the groups’ claim, saying Kheng’s statement was misquoted and is far from his original message – a distortion which he said induces confusion among the public.
“The Ministry of Justice’s campaign is not a prison release campaign that moves in accordance with the demands and wants of these two organisations, [despite the lack of] legal basis and considerations for social security and safety,” said Malin.