About 70 people representing the government and NGOs attended a meeting yesterday to discuss the issue of online sexual exploitation of minors in Phnom Penh.
The discussions revealed that minors in Cambodia are still susceptible to online sexual predators and that the government will have to step up its game in combatting cyber paedophiles.
Samleang Seila, executive director of Action Pour Les Enfants, said during the meeting that there are legitimate concerns regarding the risks and dangers of online sexual exploitation of minors.
Mr Seila said that ever since the availability of the Internet Hotline Cambodia in 2015, Aple has recorded 215 cases of pornography involving minors.
“Among these types of crimes, extortion also occurred,” he said, adding that cases tend to involve pornographic photos of the victims.
Mr Seila said that in many cases, the courts were involved to solve the matters. However, for some cases, victims were left on their own.
“Reports of incidents involving a child are rare but I think the more pressing issue is victim shaming,” Mr Seila said. “We want all internet users to understand that we are pushing the authorities to implement stricter laws.”
He said the youth population is prone to exposing themselves online, making them targets for sexual predators.
His statement reflects a growing number of young people accessing the internet without being aware of the consequences of sharing private matters.
Phor Phkay Proek, an attendee, said that exploitation does happen online but many users still do not have a clear idea of the consequences.
“Users don’t pay attention to what they are doing online,” Ms Phkay Proek said. “Youth need to be more careful.”
Major Chan Darith, deputy chief of the anti-cybercrime bureau at the Interior Ministry, said he has received reports of crimes involving children online from Aple.
“We have been cooperating with Aple to solve cases between last year and this year,” Maj Darith said, adding that the suspects tend to know the victim.
He said that in some cases, victims were cheated and extorted online for profit. He added that it is up to the government to draft laws protecting minors online.
“The mechanism we use now is based on the law but our laws aren’t strong enough to prevent cybercrimes,” Maj Darith said. “There is a draft law, but what we use are laws regarding human trafficking.”
According to Mr Seila, Cambodia has so far this year convicted several foreign nationals involved in inappropriate acts with a minor aged between 11 and 16.
“The figure has decreased but we can’t rely on it alone,” he said. “I think that Cambodia remains a destination for sex tourists.”