February 24, 2023
PHNOM PENH – Cambodia and Thailand are expediting a procedure to transfer Thai prisoners convicted in Cambodia to serve their sentences in Thailand. The procedure will be in line with the extradition treaty that the two countries have and a recent recommendation from Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The matter was mentioned during a meeting on February 22 between Minister of Justice Koeut Rith and Thai ambassador to Cambodia Cherdkiat Atthakor, according to the justice ministry.
During the meeting, both sides also touched on strengthening cooperation in the law enforcement sector and courts between the two neigbouring countries.
During his trip to Laos on February 13, Prime Minister Hun Sen said that Cambodia plans to send Thai and Lao prisoners to serve their sentence in their respective countries. The transfers are expected to happen before Khmer New Year in mid-April. He also told the justice ministry and interior ministry to work on the issue.
General Department of Prison spokesman Nouth Savna said that the GDP is preparing documents according to extradition procedures. He said the extraditions are important because it is a humanitarian act and an example of good cooperation between the countries involved.
“In reality, no one wants to be jailed in another country, they want to be sent back home where their relatives can come to see them. Our government leaders have leniency and this is a humanitarian gesture for them. It also makes our prisons less crowded,” he said.
He added that the extradition is on a voluntary basis and any prisoners who wished to remain where they are can do so.
According to Savna, as of February 21 there are 112 Thai detainees in Cambodia and some of them have been convicted while some are just charged persons.
Soeng Sen Karuna, spokesman for rights group ADHOC, said that extraditing detainees to their home country is a humanitarian gesture and it helps save the expense of the government for the prisoners.
But he questioned whether those prisoners would continue to serve their sentences once they get back to their home countries due to discrepancies in prisoner management from country to country.
He also urged Cambodian authorities to pay more attention to their own prisoners.