Phnom Penh, Cambodia – On March 2nd 2015, Cambodian national ‘H.V.’ was arrested on suspicion of sexually exploiting multiple boys and one girl living inside his orphanage. The arrest came as a result of a joint operation by the AHTJPU and MoSAVY, with assistance from child protection organization Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE). H.V. has had a long career working in child protection for different organizations, including as the country director for APLE in 2003/2004.
It was at a government official’s request that APLE began to investigate H.V. in this case of alleged institution-based exploitation. APLE conducted the investigation according to standard operational guidelines and submitted a formal report of suspected abuse to police. The alleged victims were formally identified and interviewed by police, in the presence of a DoSAVY official, and their school principal.
As in all cases, APLE’s priority is the welfare of the children involved. Seila Samleang, Executive Director of APLE, said about the arrest:
“It is difficult to believe such a person, who started a mission to protect children more than 12 years ago, can abuse children. At APLE, our urgent priority in this case, as in all cases, was to work with our partners to provide protection and support to the victims of abuse and to work closely with the police to assist in investigating and prosecuting anyone committing sexual crimes against children.”
This case marks the 21st arrest of an individual linked to a child-focused institution in Cambodia. Tim Huon, Investigation Manager of APLE, explained more about institution-based exploitation:
“APLE has gained significant experience in dealing with institution-based exploitation cases. It is very complicated to obtain evidence in such cases, since orphanages are often closed settings. But APLE must pursue cases like these when they come to our attention, given the large number of potential victims and their dependence on the institution’s staff.”
In addition, MoSAVY has decided to close the orphanage program. Together with other NGOs, MoSAVY is arranging suitable placements for the children. APLE’s social team is working with partner NGOs to provide counseling to the victims. APLE is offering all victims with legal representation in court, if requested Him Sophorn, Social Work Manager of APLE, stated the following:
”We understand the impact of abuse on the development of a child. Childhood trauma is a big concern that can impact the rest of their lives. If we do not take action, children will suffer long-term consequences.”
The suspect is being questioned and awaiting his charges today by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court.