Ventilation condition of a detention block at CC1

The Prison Reform Support Programme is a partnership with the Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Prisons (GDP) to improve prison conditions and the treatment of prisoners through legal reform, improved management, professional training, monitoring of conditions and treatment, and support for remedial actions.

Under the programme, OHCHR visits and assesses prisons, and encourages all relevant actors in the Criminal Justice System, along with civil society, to cooperate on penal reform and the improved administration of justice. The programme visits and assesses prisons, and report confidentially to the Director General of the GDP and to the Minister of Interior.  These reports are aimed at providing an independent objective assessment of conditions of detention and the treatment of prisoners in each prison, highlighting positive aspects, issues of concern and recommendations for improvement.

Four recommendations by OHCHR were accepted and are in the process of being implemented:

  • To increase the daily food allocation per detainee from 1,500 to 2,800 riels (US$ 0.37 to US$ 0.70);
  • To review the prisoners’ committees, the bodies originally set up in prisons to improve the control and management of prisoners, but which have been implicated in the abuse and ill-treatment of prisoners;
  • To address issues of corruption within the prisons;
  • To establish minimum design standards for construction of prisons.

OHCHR-Cambodia regards this prison support programme as exemplary of the new spirit of constructive cooperation that it has been seeking to develop with interested governmental institutions.

The Prison Reform Support Programme at a glance:

  • Professionalisation of prison officials through the development of professional training for prison staff based on international human rights law and capacity building of trainers from the Police Academy of Cambodia and the General Department of Prisons who provide professional training to prison staff;
  • Landmark Prison Law adopted in 2011 and Royal Decree on Separate Status of Prison Staff promulgated in 2013 (with technical advice from OHCHR);
  • Five year Strategic Plan of the General Department of Prisons (2014-2018) developed and adopted (with OHCHR support and technical advice);
  • Flood and Fire Disaster Preparedness and Response established and improved in prisons;
  • Improved legal classification of prisoners and communication between prisons, court judges and prosecutors, combined with targeted legal aid support, contributing to a significant reduction in the number of prisoners awaiting appeal or otherwise lacking final judgement;
  • Water, sanitation and health-related improvements in 27 prisons accommodating 92% of the prison population, including: secured rooms for prisoners at 15 provincial referral hospitals, making it henceforth unnecessary to chain ill prisoners to their beds; window-opening and ventilation improvements in 9 prisons, leading to improved air circulation and lighting; internal fencing to improve access to fresh air/farming activities in 6 prisons; improved water supply and distribution including rain-water harvesting in 12 prisons. Material improvements accompanying the elaboration with the General Department of Prisons of a ministerial instruction on Minimum Standards for Prison Construction and Renovation;
  • Heightened awareness of the situation of women, pregnant women and women with children in prison among criminal justice practitioners, contributing to a decrease in the population of females and small children in prison since 2013.