On 18 May 2016, Phnom Penh Municipal Court held a trial against a 53-year-old American national charged with purchasing of child prostitution by article 34 of Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation (LSHTSE). There were 9 victims aged from 5 to 16 years old, 7 plaintiffs, and 2 witnesses involving in the case. The trial was conducted in a closed forum. APLE’s lawyer has advocated to have the hearing with video conference, but due to unexpected technical problems, the judge decided to use a privacy screen instead. With this immediate response, a privacy screen was used to reduce the fear of victims from seeing the face of the accused.
On 14 June 2016, the council judge of Phnom Penh Municipal Court pronounced the verdict convicting him of purchasing child prostitution by Art.34 of LSHTSE, sentencing him to 10 years’ imprisonment, and ordering to pay compensation 48 million riel (approximately USD 12,000) to 6 civil plaintiffs.
The victims and the plaintiffs were satisfied with the verdict. They said the punishment was acceptable and fair enough. However, most of them expected to have a deportation order after his completion of jail term. With the deportation order, they are sure that he will not have a single chance to abuse Cambodian children or bring any harm to the current victims.
APLE’s lawyers were delighted with the court decision on the punishment because it is in between the minimum and maximum penalty by law. They were especially pleased that the judge used the court screen when the TV-link was not working. This has shown that the legal sector is demonstrating a good improvement on child- friendly procedures. However, the victims would have been more happy if the judges had decided on a deportation order. The continuing presence of the paedophile could bring harm and emotional insecurity to other Cambodian children as well as the victims themselves.