In addition to the prepared text to commemorate the 104th International Women’s Day, Samdech Techo Hun Sen touched on a number of issues as followed:

Hostels for Female Students

With regard to female students in education, we have brought up many times about the fact that women and men have equal rights for education. That has been ensured in primary education level. However, when they go up to secondary and tertiary levels of education, the number of female students has gone down. It is still an issue. We must seek the means to resolve the issue. The provision of hostels for female students could be one of the options.

Inmates with Pregnancy or Babies Released

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to the commission that is urgently established to resolve the issue of releasing inmates with pregnancy and/or babies. According to the Royal Decree, 22 female inmates with pregnancy and/or babies are going to be released. We will continue to work on this issue before the Khmer New Year. As we already have statistics and legal decision, we will take this matter into action. There has been request for clarification about maturity of pregnancy – before or after four-month old pregnancy. I made it clear as long as they are pregnant they are subject to this decision. We do not want to see children to be born in prison.

We have here the presence of Ms Pong Chhiv Gech and I am grateful to the assessment of LICADHO on this issue. I received an SMS from her in English. I responded with my poor English. Hope she can understand. We also need to make clear that we have no intention to encourage women with pregnancy and babies to carry out illegal actions. Our release of those female inmates should not be misunderstood. Children yet to be born need to be well fed and they are innocent. They should not serve the punishment. Children born in their one, two or even three years of age live in prison are yet another sad story.

Therefore, I am calling on all women to refrain from committing crimes or wrongdoings to get imprisonment. I am calling on the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs to go on discussing to seek a long-term measures to resolve this matter in the future for this case. We cannot afford to go on with this – women verdicts released after being caught in two days – as criminals would then take the opportunity to use pregnant and small-baby women to commit crime or wrongdoings as they would be released or serve less severe punishment. There must be measures to deal with this in the future.

Among those released one conducted and found guilty of committing a lethal crime. We have already made political decision though. I am seeking lawyers and those who like to criticize the Prime Minister to please understand this issue here. I do not abuse power. I exercise my power according to the law on Prison, which allow the Prime Minister to request for pardon from HM the King anytime after the court decisions go into force. According to the report I have here some are in the process of bringing their cases to the attention of the Appeal Court and some are still under court’s study. In that case, I cannot do anything. We are releasing here only those women in point with enforced court decision.

We have more than one month to come to Khmer New Year. Those who are taking their cases to Appeal Court, there would be nothing we could do. Those who would withdraw their cases, allowing the court decision to take effect, would also need to need 60 days to get over with the time required for appeal./.