UN urges Covid inmate info


Content image - Phnom Penh Post

UN in Cambodia officials visit Prey Sar Prison. Un in Cambodia

The UN in Cambodia urged the General Department of Prisons (GDP) to provide information on the spread of Covid-19 in the nation’s prisons in a transparent manner – a decision relevant officials said rests with the Ministry of Health and local authorities.

According to their press release, the UN in Cambodia works with prison authorities to ensure that the rights of inmates and people working with them are protected in accordance with Cambodia’s international human rights obligations.

“The United Nations in Cambodia does not have specific information on the number of positive cases in prisons and requests greater transparency to ensure that information concerning the outbreak in prisons is made available,” the press release said.

The UN in Cambodia stated that they continue to offer assistance in implementing alternatives to detention during the Covid-19 pandemic, urging the government to use detention as a last resort with alternatives to imprisonment considered a priority.

The GDP has been provided with a great deal of assistance from the UN in matters such as procuring PPE – including face shields, test kits and vitamin supplements.

GDP spokesman Nuth Savna could not be reached for comment on May 30, but he told The Post on May 27 that he had not received any notice instructing him to disclose data on Covid-19 infections among inmates, and that this was the responsibility of the Ministry of Health and the capital-provincial authorities.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group Licadho, said information on Covid-19 in prisons was not being handled transparently, which was causing concerns among detainees’ families – including for their own wellbeing when visiting the prison.

“I support the UN’ recommendation and request that the GDP and prisons provide transparent information about Covid-19 in prisons, because our prisons are overcrowded nationwide,” he said.

Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said the GDP’s decision not to reveal the identities of inmates with Covid-19 was to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in prisons.

“[For cases] outside the prisons, authorities do reveal the identities of Covid-19 positive people because it assists them in contact tracing. This is also necessary to encourage people who had direct and indirect contact with them to voluntarily be tested in order to prevent the further spread of Covid-19,” he said.

He said detainees have no outside contact and therefore it was up to the GDP whether to reveal the identities of infected detainees or not.

Malin took issue with the request to reveal the identities of the detainees, saying it was in contrast to what UN special rapporteurs said last year.

“I don’t know what the UN, civil societies and some opposition groups really want,” Malin said.

In December of last year, UN Special Rapporteur in Cambodia Rhona Smith, Special Rapporteur Tlaleng Mofokeng and Special Rapporteur Joseph Cannatac were alarmed at the decision by the government to publish information about individuals who had contracted Covid-19.

They stated at the time that it was unnecessary under any circumstances and a deplorable breach of privacy.

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Read More:UN urges Covid inmate info

UN urges Covid inmate info


Content image - Phnom Penh Post

UN in Cambodia officials visit Prey Sar Prison. Un in Cambodia

The UN in Cambodia urged the General Department of Prisons (GDP) to provide information on the spread of Covid-19 in the nation’s prisons in a transparent manner – a decision relevant officials said rests with the Ministry of Health and local authorities.

According to their press release, the UN in Cambodia works with prison authorities to ensure that the rights of inmates and people working with them are protected in accordance with Cambodia’s international human rights obligations.

“The United Nations in Cambodia does not have specific information on the number of positive cases in prisons and requests greater transparency to ensure that information concerning the outbreak in prisons is made available,” the press release said.

The UN in Cambodia stated that they continue to offer assistance in implementing alternatives to detention during the Covid-19 pandemic, urging the government to use detention as a last resort with alternatives to imprisonment considered a priority.

The GDP has been provided with a great deal of assistance from the UN in matters such as procuring PPE – including face shields, test kits and vitamin supplements.

GDP spokesman Nuth Savna could not be reached for comment on May 30, but he told The Post on May 27 that he had not received any notice instructing him to disclose data on Covid-19 infections among inmates, and that this was the responsibility of the Ministry of Health and the capital-provincial authorities.

Am Sam Ath, deputy director of rights group Licadho, said information on Covid-19 in prisons was not being handled transparently, which was causing concerns among detainees’ families – including for their own wellbeing when visiting the prison.

“I support the UN’ recommendation and request that the GDP and prisons provide transparent information about Covid-19 in prisons, because our prisons are overcrowded nationwide,” he said.

Ministry of Justice spokesman Chin Malin said the GDP’s decision not to reveal the identities of inmates with Covid-19 was to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in prisons.

“[For cases] outside the prisons, authorities do reveal the identities of Covid-19 positive people because it assists them in contact tracing. This is also necessary to encourage people who had direct and indirect contact with them to voluntarily be tested in order to prevent the further spread of Covid-19,” he said.

He said detainees have no outside contact and therefore it was up to the GDP whether to reveal the identities of infected detainees or not.

Malin took issue with the request to reveal the identities of the detainees, saying it was in contrast to what UN special rapporteurs said last year.

“I don’t know what the UN, civil societies and some opposition groups really want,” Malin said.

In December of last year, UN Special Rapporteur in Cambodia Rhona Smith, Special Rapporteur Tlaleng Mofokeng and Special Rapporteur Joseph Cannatac were alarmed at the decision by the government to publish information about individuals who had contracted Covid-19.

They stated at the time that it was unnecessary under any circumstances and a deplorable breach of privacy.

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