Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambodia to soon establish juvenile prison: Social Affairs

Cambodia to soon establish juvenile prison: Social Affairs

Youths in Siem Reap Provincial Prison undergo vocational skills training organised by This Life Cambodia.
Youths in Siem Reap Provincial Prison undergo vocational skills training organised by This Life Cambodia. Photo supplied

Cambodia to soon establish juvenile prison: Social Affairs

A sub-decree establishing Cambodia’s first juvenile prison will be issued by the start of September, Minister of Social Affairs Vong Soth told United Nations Special Rapporteur Rhona Smith on Wednesday.

Observers said such a facility is long overdue, with young people aged 14 to 18 still being incarcerated in Cambodian prisons alongside adults.

“Based on this sub-decree [due] by the end of this month, or the beginning of next month, we will have a centre – or we can say a jail – to put the children who abuse or [behave] contrary to the law,” Soth said, adding that the centre would have capacity for 700 to 1,000 underage inmates.

Smith, who has a special interest in child rights, said 482 children remain incarcerated at Prey Sar’s Correctional Centre 2 in Phnom Penh and noted “it’s not so many more that this new facility will accommodate”.

“It’s very important to focus on the rehabilitation of young people so they can return to the community, and also to consider diversion activities so that people perhaps can serve their sentence in the community,” she said.

She also urged the government to only detain children “when absolutely necessary” and ensure they receive a good education, as well as vocational training, such as air conditioning or motorbike repair, both of which are currently on offer in Prey Sar with assistance from NGO This Life Cambodia (TLC).

Rachel Watkins, TLC’s Children and Families Section lead, said that incarcerating children alongside adults “leaves an already vulnerable group open and exposed to potential exploitation and abuse”.

TLC hoped that multiple centres dedicated to child offenders would be established across the country, not just one in the capital, but they were awaiting clearer details in the forthcoming sub-decree.

Watkins said it was important for child offenders in the provinces to maintain contact with their families or rebuild severed ties, which could reduce the rate of recidivism, but there was a lack of clarity on how those rights were ensured.

“Such ambiguity thus leaves us highly concerned about the reality of how the youth rehabilitation centre(s) would operate in practice and whether they may serve to further (intentionally or otherwise) isolate and disconnect disenfranchised youth from their families, communities and society at large,” she wrote in an email.

Reached yesterday, Ministry of Social Affairs spokesman Touch Channy said an inter-ministerial meeting about the juvenile prison had taken place on Tuesday and the sub-decree had already been sent to the Council of Ministers, but he declined to comment further.

Additional reporting by Mech Dara and Kong Meta

MOST VIEWED

  • Angkor lifetime pass, special Siem Reap travel offers planned

    The Ministry of Tourism plans to introduce a convenient, single lifetime pass for foreign travellers to visit Angkor Archaeological Park and potentially other areas. The move is designed to stimulate tourism to the culturally rich province of Siem Reap as the start of the “Visit

  • ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ meet commences, Taiwan issue possibly on table

    The 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) and related meetings hosted by Cambodia kicks off in Phnom Penh on August 3, with progress, challenges, and the way forward for the ASEAN Community-building on the table. Issues on Taiwan, sparked by the visit of US House Speaker

  • Pailin longan winery tries to break through to the big time

    Longan aren’t quite as glamorous as some fruits. They don’t have the star-power of mangos or generate the excitement of a pricey seasonal niche fruit like the pungent durian. Unlike bananas or oranges, which are known and loved everywhere, longan remains a decidedly

  • Recap of this year’s ASEAN FM meet and look ahead

    This year’s edition of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) hosted by Cambodia comes against the backdrop of heightened global tensions and increasing rivalry between major powers that have been compared to the animosity of the Cold War era. The following is The Post’

  • Debt restructuring over, time to tackle rising NPL ratio

    The Cambodian banking system has just completed a 26-month debt restructuring exercise where scores of loan accounts were revised, classified and provisioned as the rate of non-performing loans inched up, sparking a slight credit risk unease Implemented in April 2020, the Covid-19 debt restructuring measures came

  • Koh Slaket studio resort brings culture with style

    Davitra (Cambodia) Co Ltd’s multi-million-dollar 13ha Koh Slaket studio-cum-resort just east of the capital was inaugurated in the first phase on August 6, providing national and international tourists with a new travel option and job opportunities for locals. The man-made cultural and scenic lakefront getaway