August 20, 2009
Phnom Penh - The government has approved a plan to build Cambodia's largest prison, capable of holding 2,500 inmates, national media reported Thursday.
Cambodia currently has 24 prisons with a combined capacity of 12,500 prisoners. Many jails are overcrowded.
Heng Hak, the general director at the Ministry of the Interior's prisons department, told the Cambodia Daily that inmates would learn skills such as farming and animal husbandry.
"One of the most important functions in government prison reform is to make a big change in prisons from a place of punishment to a place of education and vocational training centres for prisoners," he told the Cambodia Daily newspaper.
Heng Hak said the grounds of the new centre, called Correctional Centre 4, or CC4, will cover 846 hectares in Pursat province.
"It will be the biggest prison (in Cambodia)," he said. "We expect that CC4 will be a key tool in resolving the matter of overcrowding."
Australia is providing support for CC4 through its government aid programme. The project's corrections adviser, Cheryl Clay, told the Cambodia Daily that the new prison would have five sections capable of holding 500 inmates each.
Clay said the vocational training programmes would help to cut violence and aggression.
"This is a way for providing some meaningful skill development and meaningful activity, and is an accepted way of creating an avenue for more income for the prison," she said.//dpa