Phnom Penh, On 5 December 2016, the Phnom Penh Municipal Court heard a defamation lawsuit filed by APLE Cambodia against a 64-year-old Australian national James Ricketson and on 15 December 2016 the Court pronounced a verdict finding James Ricketson guilty and sentencing him in absentia to compensation of 10 million Riel and 5 million Riel fine according to Article 305 of the Criminal Code.
In Oct 2015, APLE Cambodia brought a lawsuit against James Ricketson after he had made plentiful attempts to defame the organisation. In September 2015, Ricketson, in his letter to the Editor of the Cambodia Daily alleged that APLE was not being honest in the rape case involving British national, David Fletcher who was convicted by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. On other occasions, he accused APLE Cambodia of bribing the police and judicial authorities to convict innocent men like David Fletcher. In the same case, he accused APLE Cambodia of paying the victim and her family to lie about the alleged rape and of being involved in the trafficking of the girl to China.
In many of his blog posts between 2014 and 2015, Ricketson repeatedly wrote to accuse APLE Cambodia of putting innocent men behind bars in order to raise funds with the impressive arrest and conviction rate; buying judges to deliver the verdicts in any direction APLE wants; being a corrupt NGO with no respect for Cambodian law or for the legal and human rights of innocent men; and manipulating witnesses and the courts to secure the outcome APLE desires.
In light of the court’s decision, Seila Samleang APLE Executive Director said “As a child protection organisation that has been tracking down hundreds of people who sexually exploit children and turning their dossiers over to authorities for further action, APLE should be praised for its efforts to protect Cambodian children, not be the subject of untrue allegations which are designed simply to protect the guilty parties.” Seila said, “I’m delighted to have our names and reputation cleared by the justice decision. Such allegations have disrupted us long enough, damaging to our tireless efforts, donor relationships, public trust and ethics that all of staff members have put into bringing justice to abused children for the last 13 years. I hope this court judgment will make our team stronger than ever.”
APLE Cambodia has a clear mandate to combat the sexual abuse and exploitation of children in Cambodia by working collaboratively with the national law enforcement and by assisting other agencies to care for the victims. Our successes can be attributed not only to our investigation approach, but also its education programme, through which communities are taught how to spot offenders and raise the alarm. Lack of education could mean that suspicions and abuse go unreported, and thus APLE hugely invests in giving ordinary people the knowledge, confidence and means to speak out.
Although APLE’s work has been invaluable to police and other child protection groups, the organisation was never intended to be a permanent solution to Cambodia’s child-protection problems, but rather a bridge between the needs of victims and the capabilities of the police to respond. To that end, APLE intends to divest a large proportion of its operations and shift its emphasis to supporting the national police in capacity building and to sustainable partnerships with other victim support agencies. This is clearly stated in our 5-year strategic plan 2016-2020. We believe it’s now time to step back and let police do their job.
NOTE TO EDITORS
Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE Cambodia)
APLE Cambodia is a non-governmental organization [NGO] responding to the continuing need to combat the sexual abuse and exploitation of children in Cambodia. Based in Phnom Penh, APLE was established in 2003 and now has a regional presence in Sihanoukville and Siem Reap. APLE is the only NGO specializing in investigating street-based child sexual abuse and exploitation in Cambodia, making the organisation invaluable experts in this field.
APLE has a highly trained and dedicated staff including lawyers, social workers, investigators and project managers. APLE’s vision is freedom from sexual abuse and exploitation for all children and its mission is to reduce all forms of child sexual abuse and exploitation through prevention, protection, promotion of prosecution, and advocacy. APLE works to achieve this mission through four interconnected programmes: Criminal Justice Development Program, Court Support Program, Community Engagement Program and the Advocacy and Research Program.
For further information in regards to APLE, please visit:
For further information on this case, please contact:
Contact: Mr. Vando Khoem
Organization: Action Pour Les Enfants [APLE Cambodia]
Phone: +855 92 590 503