Cambodia Frees 26 Political Prisoners

The Cambodian government has released 26 political, environmental, and youth activists who were imprisoned for alleged incitement against the government.

“This is a normal court procedure, the court didn’t pay attention to whether you are activists or not. This is a campaign to help solve cases that are stuck in courts and reduce the capacity in crowded prisons,” said justice ministry spokesman Chin Malin.

Among those released since Nov 5 were members of environment group Mother Nature Cambodia along with union leader Rong Chhun, said Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group Licadho.

“The release of 26 wrongfully detained political prisoners is good news, but there is nothing to stop the Cambodian authorities from re-arresting them at any time,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

According to the detainees, the prison conditions were overcrowded, deplorable, and that they were not given medical aid. 

Cambodian General Department of Prisons (GDP) spokesman Nouth Savna however said that the complaints were just a political ploy. 

“They are not meant to be comfortable places with delicious food to eat like you get outside. Prisons are places of punishment where offenders serve criminal sentences and inmates are rehabilitated so that they will behave themselves when freed,” said Savna. 

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