Action Pour Les Enfants yesterday expressed concern that Cambodian children are still the target of foreign paedophiles.
Samleang Seila, executive director of APLE, yesterday during a workshop said that developing countries do not yet have concrete means to discourage and prevent the sexual abuse of children.
“Suspects will always look to take advantage of poor communities and weak law enforcement,” Mr Seila said. “Children are vulnerable, especially those living on the streets.”
“The exploitation of children in Cambodia continues to threaten their safety,” he added.
According to APLE, foreign tourists suspected of paedophilia continue to visit the Kingdom in order to exploit weak law enforcement.
APLE investigated 102 cases in 2017 and 89 cases in 2018, he noted.
It said that suspected paedophiles have also changed their tactics from looking for potential victims in the cities to looking for victims in rural areas.
Though one thing remains the same; paedophiles look to persuade potential victims and their family by giving financial compensation.
“More than 200 convicted foreign paedophiles committed abuse on nearly 900 victims in Cambodia from 2003 until now,” Mr Seila said. “Most of the victims were children from poor communities that lacked knowledge of what sexual abuse is.”
He added that most of the victims were boys and that it took long-term investigations in order to find sufficient evidence to arrest suspects.
Chou Bun Eng, a secretary of state with the Interior Ministry and vice chairwoman of the National Authority against Human Trafficking, yesterday said child abuse and exploitation are still major concerns.
“Abuse and exploitation still occur, so we are concerned about this because the rate has not decreased,” Ms Bun Eng said. “If we don’t work hard, Cambodian children will continue to be at risk.”
She added that in response, the authorities have disseminated information by distributing leaflets about sexual abuse to poor communities.
Ms Bun Eng said that a network of local authorities in the country has been created to share information.
“We will continue to prevent and crack down on crimes and arrest suspects and we will continue to implement laws,” she said. “The figure of this year did not decrease when compared to last year.”
She noted that alcohol, drugs and pornography all play a role in influencing victims to comply with the wants of paedophiles.
“Anyone suspected of committing crimes against children must be put on trial,” Ms Bun Eng said. “And if they’re found guilty, they must be given a harsh sentence.”