Cambodia’s social affairs ministry steps up focus on predicaments of kids in jails

"They are not prisoners, but are just as vulnerable”, the Ministry spokesman Touch Channy said.

Chea Sokny

Chea Sokny

The Phnom Penh Post


Social affairs ministry director-general for technical affairs Touch Channy (centre) and other officials visit women and their children at Correctional Centre II (M2) on May 14. SOCIAL AFFAIRS MINISTRY

May 16, 2023

PHNOM PENH – The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation has vowed to raise the living standards of children who live with their imprisoned mothers in the Kingdom’s prison system, after observing some shortcomings in a recent visit.

The ministry announced on May 14 that their senior officials, in collaboration with the General Department of Prisons (GDP), the Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF) and the Department of Child Protection, visited women and children at Correctional Centre II (M2) of the capital’s Prey Sar Prison.

The visit was timed to coincide with International Mother’s Day, and CCF food packages were distributed to the inmates and their children.

The ministry’s General Department of Technical Affairs director-general and spokesman Touch Channy said on May 15 that it was not entirely unexpected that living conditions were poor in the prison.

“Following the visit, the ministry and its partner organisations are now exploring ways to offer a better life to these children. They are not prisoners, but are just as vulnerable,” he added.

“We are working with the GDP to ensure that the children will no longer stay in the prison. We are contemplating building a kind of separate village for them within the prison walls, so that at least they are not forced to share cells with their mothers,” he explained.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group Licadho, said that there are many complications related to nutrition, accommodation and sanitation for imprisoned pregnant women and mothers who have their children with them.

He added that the prison system is currently overcrowded, so pregnant women or women with small children are extremely vulnerable to poor hygiene and food insecurity. They are also at increased risk of contracting infectious diseases or infections.

“I think the social affairs ministry should visit them more often – not just on Mother’s Day. The ministry should check on their needs, especially those related to nutrition and hygiene,” he concluded.

According to the Ministry of Interior, in February 2019 there were around 170 mothers with children and 51 pregnant women in Cambodian prisons.

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