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Finding justice for women, children victims of sex crimes

In response to yesterday’s article "Provincial cop ‘still on job’ despite sentencing", Licadho commends Mr Yun Bunly for his remarkable courage and principle in pursuing the case against Korng Sophat, the police officer convicted of raping his 11-year-old daughter in 2010.

Immediately after committing the crime, Sophat offered Mr Bunly and his family a sizeable sum of money to drop the complaint against him.

Instead the family chose to pursue the case through the courts but five years later they have been woefully failed by Cambodia’s justice system with Sophat remaining free and no sign of the $10,000 compensation ordered by the court.

Such an outcome is not uncommon, particularly in cases of violence and sexual assault against women and children.

Only about a third of rape cases investigated by Licadho result in a satisfactory conviction.

The remaining cases either end before trial, with many complaints dropped in return for compensation, or result in a flawed conviction, with convictions for lesser offences and suspended sentences commonplace.

As demonstrated by this case, where the perpetrator has wealth and occupies a position of power, securing a proper conviction is almost impossible.

The courts’ failure to impose proper legal sanctions in cases of violence and sexual assault is not only extremely harmful to the victims, it also signals indifference to the issue on the part of the authorities and undermines the deterrent effect of the law.

The courts need to set an example in such cases and the government needs to make clear its condemnation of violence against women and children.

Recent developments in the cases of Sok Bun and Chhouk Bundith have given some slight cause for optimism.

We hope that they are an indication of increased willingness on the part of the government and the courts and not simply a populist stunt made possible by the high-profile nature of the cases.

We will be watching carefully and urge those who have the power to ensure that Mr Yun Bunly and his daughter, and all those like them, receive justice at last.

Naly Pilorge



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