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Solutions sought after floods cause prisoner evacuations

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General Department of Prisons deputy-director Nuth Savna meets UN officials on Monday to discuss possible remedies concerning the thousands of inmates who have been transferred due to floods. Photo supplied

Solutions sought after floods cause prisoner evacuations

General Department of Prisons deputy-director Nuth Savna on Monday met UN officials to seek a solution for prisoners who have been evacuated due to flooding in the country.

More than 3,000 inmates have been transferred to other prisons.

Savna said the meeting involved UN Resident Coordinator Pauline Tamesis, OHCHR-Cambodia Representative Pradeep Wagle and representatives from UNICEF and the International Red Cross.

“This is a meeting to establish new ways of working together. As a result, Pauline Tamesis will check out the situation at Prey Sar prison on Wednesday. Both sides had good cooperation, especially in education and corrections at Cambodian prisons.

“The UN representatives in Cambodia want to cooperate and help us. I listed hygienic materials, foods, fuel and medicines for rescuing the more than 3,000 prisoners who have directly been affected by rain-induced floods,” Savna said.

He said the UN representatives had taken the requests into consideration. The requests concerned infrastructure restoration, repairs, and improvements of prison locations that were damaged by the floods.

He added that the response was positive and the UN representatives promised help that included justice system reforms and sentencing policies.

Savna said it was the first time UN agencies in Cambodia have worked closely with the General Department of Prisons in terms of providing aid. He called it a new era in cooperation between development partners and the prison general department.

Savna said the most affected inmates were from Correctional Centre II (M2) in Phnom Penh and the prison in Banteay Meanchey province, totalling 3,100 prisoners. Affected inmates across the country number nearly 40,000.

Tamesis said the UN system in the Kingdom is closely monitoring the situation, including in prisons and detention facilities.

“We are engaging with various stakeholders, line ministries and departments to understand the needs and gaps in supporting vulnerable and affected population,” she said.

Soeng Sen Karuna, the senior investigator at rights group Adhoc, said prison operational projects should get attention and assistance from the international community.

He said the General Department of Prisons should think more about the inmates’ wellbeing because prisons are currently overcrowded and affected by poor environments.

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