The Ministry of Justice has recommended a royal pardon and sentence reduction for 90 out of 512 convicts in conjunction with the upcoming Water Festival.

It was officially made to the Prime Minister who will formally present it to King Norodom Sihamoni.

In its announcement on Tuesday, the ministry said the selection was made during a meeting held by a national committee tasked with reviewing the recommendations. Of the 90 convicts, of whom 17 are women, 80 were eligible for a sentence reduction of between six and 12 months. The remaining 10 inmates, two of whom are women, will receive a royal pardon.

Ministry spokesman Kim Santepheap said the committee excluded the other inmates because they had been convicted for drug trafficking and serious crimes that he said posed a threat to society.

“We cannot request a pardon or sentence reduction for them because they had been convicted of drug dealing and other heinous crimes. Other inmates were counted out because they lack sufficient paperwork,” he said.

He pointed out that only inmates who had corrected themselves and served at least one-third of their prison term were eligible for a sentence reduction. For a royal pardon, inmates have to serve at least two-thirds of their sentences after receiving a final verdict.

Santepheap said the number of convicts who will receive a pardon or sentence reduction during this year’s Water Festival was similar to that of last year.

Cambodian Defenders Project executive director Sok Sam Oeun welcomed the move. He said this would encourage other inmates to correct themselves while in prison.

“This mechanism is really good if it is implemented fairly and transparently. It would push inmates to behave well in prison in the hope of receiving a royal pardon,” he said.