Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Friday, June 01, 2007

Harsh conditions for detainees in Cambodian prison

The lawyer for three men awaiting trial for human trafficking has requested a cell change due to conditions of “punishment and torture,” The Cambodia Daily reports.

The three suspects are accused of aiding Montagnard asylum seekers and have been detained at Ratanakkiri Provincial Prison since April 23. Counsel for the suspects described the cell as a five-by-five meter space with 16 inmates and only small holes in the ceiling for air. The prison was built in 1985 and has been used for holding political dissidents. “It affects their health and human rights – dark prisons should not be allowed. I wrote a letter to the governor to help build a prison, or at least build windows,” Ny Chandy, counsel for the suspects, said.

The suspects were arrested on April 20 and accused of taking money from the Montagnards in return for aiding their effort to reach United Nations refugee officials for protection. Apparently, the men accepted $125 to buy food and supplies for the Montagnards as they waited for the U.N. to place them under protection in the forests of Cambodia. The U.N. human rights representative in Cambodia, Henrik Stenman, said that the agency was continuing to monitor the cases of the 3 detainees.

Pen Bonar, the adhoc provisional coordinator, added that “there are no standards for keeping prisoners, and there is not enough air coming in.” Conditions in Ratanakkiri Prison have been the focus of heavy criticism by NGOs since 2002.

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