5 Month Old Baby Dies After Time In Women’s Prison

Phnom Penh: February 18, 2020 – A five-month-old baby incarcerated with her mother in Correctional Centre 2 (*Prey Sar) prison died on Sunday, 26 January, at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh. This tragic death once again illustrates the urgent need for authorities to prioritise bail for mothers with children.

The mother of the child who died was sent to pre-trial detention in mid-2019 after authorities alleged she possessed a sachet of methamphetamine worth just 10,000 riel, or $2.50. The woman was not provided a lawyer and was unaware of her right to apply for bail. She was eight months pregnant when she was sent to prison.

We call on authorities to take immediate steps to ensure that this never happens again.

The death
On 18 January, five-month-old Tevy – whose name has been changed to hide her identity – sustained an injury that caused a thighbone fracture. It is still unclear how she was injured. Medical staff at CC2 examined her and transferred her and her mother to the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, which has previously treated detainees from the prison. Hospital staff conducted an x-ray and found that the child had a fractured thighbone.

They transferred Tevy and her mother to the National Children’s Hospital, stating that they did not have the expertise to treat a patient so young. The National Children’s Hospital then treated the child and sent her back to CC2, despite prison staff asking if Tevy and her mother could stay overnight for observation. Hospital staff refused, reportedly saying there was no room for them.

During the next week, the mother noticed that her baby had a fever and would not stop coughing. Prison staff brought them back to the National Children’s Hospital. The doctor saw them only briefly before setting a follow-up appointment for three weeks’ time. The mother told the doctor that she had run out of the medicine that had been initially prescribed for Tevy, but the doctor did not give her any more medicine. It is not clear what the child had been prescribed.

By 25 January, Tevy was struggling to breathe. The mother noticed that her baby was starting to lose consciousness and told the guard immediately. Medical staff at CC2 put her child on an intravenous drip and transferred her to the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital, where they cleared and then x-rayed her lungs. They were both allowed to stay overnight at the hospital.

An autopsy showed that Tevy had died from pneumonia and severe malnutrition.

On the morning of 26 January, the child was fighting to breathe. She was transferred to the emergency room where a doctor tried to remove mucus from her lungs and performed CPR but she remained unconscious. The child was then placed in an incubator and given oxygen.

Thirty minutes later, she died.

An autopsy showed that Tevy had died from pneumonia and severe malnutrition.

Growing up behind bars
There are currently 103 children and 43 pregnant women incarcerated in the 18 prisons monitored by LICADHO, and this number has nearly doubled since 1 January, 2017. CC2, the only prison in Cambodia built to hold women and children, has an official capacity of 350 inmates. It currently holds 1,850 detainees. FULL REPORT LICADHO

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