Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday urged the Women’s Affairs and Justice Ministries to explore the possibility of pardoning some female inmates outside of national holiday periods, noting that he will consider establishing a body, directly under his control, to assist impoverished women.
He made the remarks during the National Council for Women’s annual meeting at the Peace Palace yesterday.
Mr Hun Sen said both aforementioned ministries must review the cases of all female inmates in all prisons across the Kingdom, and problems they face.
“Female inmates are facing many family problems – some have children that they have to look after, while others were abandoned by their husbands,” he said, noting that it is time for tolerance and compassion. “It is so that some can be pardoned outside of the usual holiday period. This has to be done before the upcoming Khmer New Year so they have the freedom to go home.”
Mr Hun Sen said the creation of a special group of defence attorneys, under his direct control, tasked with assisting impoverished female inmates, will also be considered.
Previously, inmates had three opportunities per year to request for a pardon. These periods are: Khmer New Year in April, Water Festival in November and Visak Bochea Day in May.
However, last year the government decided to extend the periods to also review pardon requests during Pchum Ben in October, Independence Day in November and Win-Win Policy Day in December.
Huy Hoeun, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s general prison department, yesterday said there are more than 2,500 female inmates in the Kingdom’s correctional centres.
Mr Hoeun said women and the elderly are highly encouraged to request for a pardon from the government.
“Women have children and many issues. If they are found to have corrected their ways, then women and the elderly are highly encouraged to request for a pardon,” he said.
Prisons in the Kingdom are overcrowded with inmates and the government has been looking for a way to address the problem.
In 2017 alone, the general prison population ballooned to nearly 30 percent when compared to the previous year.
Additionally, Mr Hun Sen during the workshop encouraged women to continue their studies so that human resources could be more diversified.
In the past, the number of female students passing with good grades has been more than the number of male students.
This is despite the fact that there are fewer female students than males.
“The government spent $230 million on education and about $60 million to $70 million was used to build houses, student homes, and paying teachers’ salaries in schools across the country to encourage woman go to school,” Mr Hun Sen said.
Mr Hun Sen said Cambodia must not allow women and children to lose a chance to take part in national development.
He noted that today, in more than 156,850 registered small and medium enterprises, there are 8,228 woman managers and over 90 percent of female garment workers are paid fairly with benefits.
Mr Hun Sen also said Cambodia is also implementing social protection policies for women including free pregnancy examinations in state hospitals and they receive cash during birth.
“In particular, during childbirth, they are given a three-month break and 120 percent of their salary. The higher the government’s income, the more benefits women will have,” he added.