Libraries for all prisons in Cambodia by 2014 Slug: Cambodia prison library Reporter: Khortieth Him Date: 02/10/2012

INTRO The Cambodia government says as of next year all Cambodian prisons will have libraries in them. The idea is to educate the inmates. But human rights groups say a more pressing issue is overcrowding. Khortieth Him has more from Phnom Penh. TEXT Prime Minister Hun Sen recently announced that all 26 prisons across the country will have libraries. HUN SEN Clip 1: (MALE KHMER): “Even though they are prisoners they should have the chance to read, learn and understand. So they gain knowledge from their time in prison.” Education NGO SIPAR is the government’s partner for the project. Hok Sothik is the group’s director. HOK SOTHIK Clip 4: (MALE ENGLISH): “We started a small pilot project in 2010 at the National Prison in Prey Sar. Through our mobile library activity, we have received some requests from the prison, so we negotiated with the Ministry of Interior, the general department of prison to launch together the first pilot activity. And during one year activities, we consider that this activity is very important, the prisoners like to read and borrow the book...etc, so we decided to prepare together the project.” At the moment four Cambodian prisons have libraries in them. Each library has more than 20,000 books on various topics. 45-year old Kong Chanta who was released from prison this year says the library is very useful. KONG CHANTHA Clip 1: (FEMALE KHMER) “It is very good for me and all prisoners to have access to books in the prison library. During the break time, prisoners can read books. Some people like to read literature books, history or scripture books, especially the old ones. These books are very helpful to forget their difficulties because one day in the prison is equal to one month.”

000 prisoners. If they cannot sleep well. But we need space for many more. So you can see that the numbers of people are at least twice more that it should be. The International Centre for Prison Study ranked Cambodia number 35 in terms of having the world’s most crowded prisons. they cannot eat well. They were built to hold only 200 people.” For Asia Calling this is Khortieth Him from Phnom Penh. LY MOV Clip 1: (MALE KHMER) “It is overcrowded because some of the prisons were built during the French colonial period.Human rights groups and education NGOs have welcomed the government’s decision to put libraries in every prison. PONG CHIV KEK Clip 2: (FEMALE ENGLISH) “From one year to another year. . It’s very difficult. this is also a human right violation. To solve this we need to build more prisons. I am pretty sure that it is difficult to use electricity to have the fan for the whole night. But Pong Chhiv Kek the President of the leading rights group LICADO says they should be focusing on solving the more important issue of overcrowding. they cannot sleep well. For example in some provincial prisons we have up to 1. So it’s very difficult when they come to lay down for sleeping you know. Deputy Director of the General Department of Prisons Ly Mov says they need time to solve the problem. sometimes two times. And as it is hot. the population in prison is increasing.” This year’s Licahdo report says that all prisons in the country are overcrowded to roughly 180% of their capacity.

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