April 3, 2023
PHNOM PENH – A team from the ministries of justice and interior – together with officials from the embassies of Laos and Thailand – has visited the Kingdom’s prisons and detention centres ahead of plans to transfer several foreign prisoners to their home countries ahead of the upcoming Khmer New Year.
The March 28 visits followed Prime Minister Hun Sen’s February visit to Laos. During the official visit, Hun Sen and his Lao counterpart agreed in principle to allow some Laos prisoners to volunteer for transfer home. A similar agreement was also made with Thailand.
Ministry of Justice spokesperson Kim Santepheap told The Post on March 29 that the team consisted of officials from the interior and justice ministry, who collaborated with the General Department of Prisons (GDP). Santepheap said no detainees have been transferred yet.
“There are still some procedural aspects to iron out. We are still finalising the paperwork,” he added.
GDP spokesman Nouth Savna told The Post that the GDP is preparing documentation and compiling a list of detainees from both countries. The list is voluntary – anyone who asks to be added will be considered.
“I am not sure precisely how the arrangement will work. I do not know how many prisoners will be transferred as plans are still in progress,” he said.
He said that the paperwork will be sent to the justice ministry and Ministry of Foreign Affairs as soon as it is completed.
“There are 75 Lao prisoners being held in Cambodia – three of them women. The majority are being held for drug offences. There are also 109 Thai detainees in the GDP system,” he added.
Under the terms of the agreement, the prisoners will serve the remainder of their sentences in their home countries prison systems.