Life in Prison: A Mother's Story

Published on November 25, 2019

To mark the international campaign, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence (25 November - 10 December), LICADHO is highlighting pregnant women and mother and children incarcerated in Cambodian prisons. Over the 16 days, we will profile women who will share their stories of pregnancy, motherhood and of survival in the Cambodian prison system.

Life is extremely harsh for people incarcerated in Cambodia’s prisons. Violations of basic human rights such as denial of access to food, clean water, time outside cells and legal representation occur on a mass scale and the realities of prison life are such that if prisoners do not have money to pay for these basic necessities, then they will go without.

Currently, there are more than 29,000 prisoners incarcerated in the 18 prisoners that LICADHO monitors. Overcrowding is at an all time high across Cambodia, mainly due to the excessive use of pre-trial detention.

LICADHO calls on the government to implement the following recommendations:

- Everyone who is eligible should be asked if they wish to apply for bail, especially in cases of vulnerable populations, i.e. women with babies and juvenile detainee

- Ensure that pre-trial detention is used appropriately and as a last resort, in accordance with the presumption of innocence.

- Ensure that proper consideration, in accordance with legal protection, is given to the personal circumstances of all charged persons, especially in cases of vulnerable populations, before making an order for detention.

- Ensure that every charged person has their pre-trial rights and protections upheld including access to adequate legal representation, being correctly informed of the charges against them and knowledge of the procedures regarding the application and granting of bail and the capacity to apply for bail, especially in cases of vulnerable populations. These proceedings should be explained clearly and implemented in a timely manner.

- Prioritise the bail hearings of cases of vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and
mothers with young children, juvenile detainees and human rights defenders so that they do not stay in pre-trial detention for lengthy and undetermined periods of time.