Out of 600 prisoners at Kampong Thom prison 18 may have their sentences reduced by six to 12 months for the upcoming Water Festival in November.
Chairman of the Kompong Thom jail-term reduction commission Kong Vimean said the decision was made after the commission assessed 21 prisoners.
“According to the evaluation of the assessment committee, who carefully examined the list of prisoners, we agreed to reduce the sentences of 18 prisoners who have appropriate characteristics, sufficient documents, and who have served enough of their sentences,” he said.
Mr Vimean said the commission did not request for the prisoners’ pardon, only a sentence reduction.
Most of the prisoners assessed were charged with murder or rape for which they have served either two thirds or half of their jail sentences.
“For the detainees who are involved with drug offences, we did not discuss the case for sentence reduction,” Mr Vimean said.
In 2015, Prime Minister Hun Sen requested the exemption of sentence reduction for prisoners with a history of robbery and drug offences due to the concern they would re-offend.
However, political prisoners were never considered, according to human rights investigator for Adhoc Seoung Sen Karona.
Mr Sen Karona said political activists, land activists and human rights activists have never received sentence reductions or exemptions.
“I would like to ask the jail-term reduction commission to consider these groups, because those conscientious groups acted to help society and did not cause the loss of any citizen’s life,” he said.
According to a LICADHO report, there are currently 19 political prisoners, including environmental campaigners, monks, students, activists, senators from opposition parties, and human rights workers.