More than 500 prisoners received clemency during Water Festival, with none of them received full pardons, with the exception of one woman prisoner who has been diagnosed with severe cancer, said Kim Satepheap, secretary of state at the Ministry of Justice.

Santepheap took to social media on November 26 to say that in response to a letter from Prime Minister Hun Manet which requested clemency, King Norodom Sihanomi had granted clemency for 538 prisoners, including 43 women, during the festival. 

According to Santepheap, 391 prisoners received three-month sentence reductions, 31 of them women. 132 prisoners, including 10 women, received six-month reductions. 12 prisoners received a nine-month sentence reduction, including 1 woman. One man received a 12-month reduction.

An additional male prisoner had a life sentence commuted to 30 years.

“One woman prisoner received a pardon on a humanitarian basis, due to her diagnosis with final stage cancer,” Santepheap said. 

He made it clear that the committee which reviewed the requests had not considered any requests by prisoners who had been convicted of drug offenses, violent crimes, those who had offended against their own spouses, family members or public officials, and those who had previously received clemency. 

Also not considered were rape cases committed on juveniles under the age of 14 or people living with mental or physical disabilities, or rapes that were committed by a group.

Am Sam Ath, operations director of rights group LICADHO, welcomed the clemency and said it aligns with Cambodian law. 

He also urged sentence reductions for those who had served one third of their sentence, and insisted that the process be transparent.