Sihanoukville, Cambodia – A member of the French Judiciary, and director of a child-focused NGO was arrested on 14th of October on suspicion of sexually abusing multiple boys living in the NGO with the suspect. The arrest came as a result of report-abuse information provided to child protection organization APLE. After hearing one identified victim describe the abuse he endured, APLE referred the case to the Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Unit and a joint investigation revealed more victims who testified about the explicit nature of the sexual abuse that they suffered for several years. Victim testimonies, in addition to evidence collected throughout the investigation, led to an operation in which the suspect was arrested. During this operation, one more victim was found and rescued and other was identified. APLE provided immediate support to the victims and is coordinating with Sihanoukville Department of Social Affairs, and a partner NGO who can deliver long-term support.
Institution-based child sexual abuse occurs when an offender uses an institution meant to benefit children to access, groom, and/or abuse children. It typically takes place in schools, orphanages and/or shelters and is a serious problem in Cambodia. APLE has investigated almost 100 cases of institution-based abuse. This case marks the twentieth arrest of an individual linked to a child-focused institution and is the fourth arrest within the past year.
Inadequate government regulation and the absence of child protection mechanisms within these institutions provide an opportunity for potential abusers to access, abuse, and exploit vulnerable children. Furthermore, widespread poverty leaves families and communities throughout Cambodia susceptible to grooming techniques, which can lead to a great level of dependency on the offender and create a culture of silence surrounding abuse. APLE has been working with the government to educate members of vulnerable community on protecting behavior and enable them to break the silence.
APLE Executive Director, Seila Samleang said:
“The victims in this case are deeply traumatized after years of abuse and therefore long-term psychological support and care for them is essential. We will work with our partner NGO to put the children and their families first priority. This arrest sends out a clear message that those abusing children will be brought to justice regardless of the position they hold within the society.”
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