Inside the Cambodian Correctional System

Published 15/12/2010
Type Article
Author(s) Chendra Keo, Roderic Broadhurst, Thierry Bouhours
Corresponding Authors Chenda Keo, ARC Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security, Regulatory Institutions Network, the Australian National University

Little is known about how Cambodia’s correctional system functions and the problems it encounters. This paper draws from the first author’s doctoral research in Cambodia, in which he interviewed 91 detained human traffickers, 200 prisoners convicted of other crimes, and 55 prison officers in eight prisons. In addition, Cambodian attitudes to crime and punishment are discussed in the light of three sweeps of the United Nations International Crime Victim Survey (UNICVS). This paper provides insights into the correctional system, focusing on three aspects: operation, irregularities and life in prisons. Cambodian prisons are more than just places of punishment and rehabilitation. Each one is a society within the larger society, characterised by inequality, inequity, hierarchy and other aspects of life observed in Cambodian society, such as corruption and abuses of power. They are primarily places for the poor where most prisoners said they were treated as if they were ‘less than human’.