Earth & Conservation

For a Price, Cambodian Prisons Offer Cushy Cells

While officials say private prisons will raise state revenue, human rights groups have concerns.

<p>Photo: Reuters </p>

Facing an overcrowded prison system, Cambodia will begin building privately-run facilities, some of which will offer inmates nicer cells -- for a price. Cambodian officials say the complex would offer cells that cater to wealthy inmates and would generate revenue.

"They are used to living in good conditions and they may want to continue living in good conditions. So they have that option," Nuth Savna, a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry's General Department of Prisons, told the Phnom Penh Post.

Interior Minister Sar Kheng said the proposal has already been approved by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and they already have a company interested in developing the private facility.

Cambodia's prison system has come under intense criticism in recent years for unequal treatment and human rights abuses. An investigation by the human rights group Licadho surveyed 18 prisons in Cambodia and found widespread bribery and corruption. Illegal cash flow dictated everything from health care, to vocational programs, to access to fresh air.

The announcement comes the same week as a special United Nations mission that will focus on concerns over free speech and corruption in Cambodia's electoral process.

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Top Photo: Kong Raya (center), is escorted by police officers as he arrives the Municipal Court of Phnom Penh March 15, 2016. The university student was convicted earlier this month for a Facebook post he wrote, calling for a regime change in Cambodia's government. (REUTERS/Samrang Pring)