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Sovannara’s book to detail horrid prison conditions

Taing Vida / Khmer Times Share:

Former opposition official Meach Sovannara is publishing a book detailing his experience behind bars as a prisoner in Prey Sar prison.

“A Former Political Prisoner in Prey Sar Prison” is the book authored by Mr Sovannara outlining the political situation in Cambodia.

His book also aims to shed light on illegal activities and irregularities undertaken by inmates and correctional officers during his time there in order to push the government for judicial reform.

“My book is divided into three chapters. It will expose how my life was inside prison as a political prisoner, who I am and how my story can help educate and inspire people involved in politics and social activities,” Mr Sovannara said yesterday.

In his book, he details rampant abuse, discrimination, exploitation, corruption, and the influence of powerful leaders within prison walls.

“I wrote this book hoping that it could be constructive for the government to draft reforms of the country’s prison management system,” Mr Sovannara said. “With this book, I want to meet Prime Minister Hun Sen and Interior Minister Sar Kheng in order to disclose all irregularities that occur behind prison walls.”

A dual citizen of the United States and Cambodia, Mr Sovannara was released from prison after a royal pardon was granted last month for his insurrection conviction over a protest at Freedom Park in 2014. He had been sentenced to 20 years and is now living in the US with his family.

Nuth Savna, a general prison department spokesman, said yesterday that he was aware of Mr Sovannara’s book.

“I’m glad that Meach Sovannara is willing to work with us so that we can investigate problems together. We really need an independent committee to identify problems,” Mr Savna said.

Am Sam Ath, monitoring manager with rights group Licadho, said yesterday that the group has received hundreds of complaints filed by prisoners about the country’s prison conditions.

Mr Sam Ath added that the government has taken a noticeable step forward in order to reform the country’s prison system.

“It is important for the government to investigate the issue with the involvement of members of civil society organisations and former prisoners such as Meach Sovannara,” he said. “He has identified problems.”

Lidacho said in a past report that prisoners in Cambodia live in deplorable conditions. It said that the government only allocates $0.70 to each prisoner daily for meals, while water is often scarce.

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