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Striving to stay alive and sane: the realities of Cambodian women behind bars

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The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), a FORUM-ASIA member, released a report entitled β€œPrison Conditions in Cambodia 2007: The Story of a Mother and a Child” highlighting the harsh realities of life in Cambodian prison to coincide with International Women’s Day celebrations on 8 March.Β 

There are more than 640 women currently detained in prisons all over Cambodia. To coincide with International Women's Day celebrations on 8 March, the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), a FORUM-ASIA member, released its latest report on prison conditions, entitled β€œPrison Conditions in Cambodia 2007: The Story of a Mother and a Child”.

The report profiles the story of one particular mother and child who spent several years living together in prison. It reveals the harsh realities of life in Cambodian prisons, where prisoners must cope with limited access to food and clean water, overcrowded prison cells, the routine denial of quality medical services, and violence towards prisoners from prison guards and other inmates.
Other findings illustrated in the report are the corruption and inefficiency of Cambodia's prison and judicial systems, which contribute to an ever-increasing prison population. Many prisoners serve extra time during pre-trial detention and are given longer prison sentences as they are often too poor or unable to pay the high bribes needed to gain early release or shorter sentences. The majority of prisoners do not have adequate access to legal representation and are uninformed and unaided during their trial and imprisonment. Many are also ignorant of their legal right to appeal.

LICADHO strongly urges the Cambodian government to take action to reform the many systemic problems in the Cambodian prisons system, in particular the need to provide prisoners with adequate access to food, water, sanitation and legal representation.

LICADHO renews its call for the judicial system to not keep pre-trial detainees in prison over the legal limit as provided by Cambodia law. Furthermore, procedures that detain people in prison over their sentence due to the appeal process should be reviewed to allow people to be released while they await their hearing.

Please go to the LICADHO website to view the full report.