PHNOM PENH (dpa) – Around 40 Cambodian women in prison with young children were being considered for royal pardons ahead of the Khmer New Year, an official said Tuesday, amid criticism of their condition.
The authorities could reduce their sentence or pardon them, allowing them to leave for the holiday in April, Ramin Eng, assistant to the director-general of the Department of Prisons, told dpa.
Local rights group LICADHO condemned the conditions of the 40 children under four years old living with their mothers in Cambodian prisons, half of them born in detention, in a report released Sunday.
The US Ambassador to Cambodia William E Todd criticized the country’s penal system in a newspaper article last month.
Cambodia’s prisons are at nearly 180 per cent of capacity, with 64 per cent of inmates still awaiting trial or sentencing, he wrote in the Cambodia Herald. Neglect and abuse were rife, and there were no dedicated facilities for women or girls, he said.
Royal pardons are customary for major holidays such as the Water Festival and Khmer New Year. Last year, King Norodom Sihamoni pardoned 70 prisoners and reduced the sentences of 485 over the new year festival, according to local media.