Cambodia Reports First COVID-19 Death in Prison

A 66-year-old woman incarcerated at Kampong Speu Provincial Prison died of COVID-19 on May 31. Photo: Kampong Speu's prison Facebook page.
  • Lay Sopheavotey & Phoung Vantha 
  • June 1, 2021 3:48 AM

A 66-year-old woman has died while being held in Kampong Speu Provincial Prison with authorities determining COVID-19 as the cause of death.

PHNOM PENH--On the night of May 31, a 66-year-old woman incarcerated at Kampong Speu Provincial Prison died of COVID-19, making her the first known prisoner to die from the virus in Cambodia.

It is currently unclear why the woman was imprisoned, but according to Kampong Speu Provincial Governor Vei Samnang the woman was displaying flu-like symptoms when she was tested for COVID-19 and the results came back positive on May 29.

Samnang said that doctors could not save her due to other health afflictions the woman reportedly suffered from, but he did not disclose what these ailments consisted of.

While Samnang said he did not know the number of other inmates who had also contracted COVID-19, he could confirm that there were other cases in Kampong Speu Provincial Prison.

“There are other infections and we have introduced measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and ensure treatment for those who contract it in the prison,” he said.

Nouth Savna, spokesperson for the Interior Ministry’s Prison Department, couldn't be reached for comment at press time.

Pressure has been mounting on the Cambodian government to be more transparent about the spread of COVID-19 through the prisons system, with both the United Nations and the World Health Organization joining the call from rights groups to better protect prisoners.

The threat of COVID-19 has been compounded by the relentless growth of Cambodia’s prison population where 27 of the 28 prisons are operating at more than 100 percent of their designed occupancy rate, often with prisoners having less than 1 squared-meter of space each in crowded cells.

Additional reporting by Phoung Vantha

Related Articles