The number of people dying in Cambodia's prisons are increasing, according to a leading human rights group. Adhoc investigators say at least 26 prisoners have died across the country in the first six months of the year.
That number is an increase of 18 above the same period in 2009. The figures are according to a study conducted by Adhoc, which in part looked at prison documents.
The provincial prison in Kampong Cham accounted for the most deaths, which recorded at least six in the month of July, Adhoc reported.
According to a Kampong Cham prison report obtained by VOA Khmer, the prisoners died of Hepatitis B, hypertension and stroke, among other ailments. But Adhoc says the deaths can be blamed on overcrowding in cells.
“I do not believe prisoners died from disease,” Chan Soveth, an investigator for the group, said.
In Kampong Cham prison, up to 23 prisoners are kept in one room, creating conditions so crowded they are forced to sleep on their sides instead of their backs, he said.
Seak Leng Seap, deputy director of Kampong Cham prison, called the report untrue, but he declined to comment further. Officials at the Ministry of Interior's prison department could not be reached for comment.
Adhoc estimates the total number of prisoners in Cambodia at nearly 14,000, an increase of about 400 since last year.