Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Former APLE chief arrested




Former APLE chief arrested

Police mill around Our Home orphanage after the arrest of its director, Hang Vibol
Police mill around Our Home orphanage after the arrest of its director, Hang Vibol, on Monday. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Former APLE chief arrested

The former country director of prominent child-protection NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE) was charged yesterday by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court over allegations that he sexually assaulted at least nine residents at an orphanage he ran in 2013 and 2014.

According to current APLE executive director Samleang Seila, the organisation participated in the investigation against Our Home orphanage director Hang Vibol, who served as APLE’s first country director in 2003 and 2004. Vibol left the organisation to found Our Home, Samleang added.

“We started to initiate our investigation at the request of the Ministry of Social Affairs after receiving a complaint from another well-known NGO working in child protection,” he said yesterday.

After confirming the first alleged victim, he added, APLE informed the Ministry of Interior, and a full investigation was launched.

Phnom Penh court vice prosecutor Kol Bon said yesterday that he had charged 46-year-old Vibol “with indecent acts against a minor under 15 years old”.

“This case has now been sent to the investigating judge for further investigation and decisions,” he added.

Police Colonel Eang Chanlon, chief of the juvenile protection program in the Ministry of Interior, said Vibol was arrested on March 2 based on complaints from children living at his orphanage that he habitually abused at least six boys and three girls living there.

Tim Huon, investigation manager of APLE, said in a statement yesterday that Vibol’s arrest was the 21st of a person involved with an institution dealing with children.

“It is very complicated to obtain evidence in such cases, since orphanages are often closed settings. But APLE must pursue cases like these when they come to our attention, given the large number of potential victims and their dependence on the institution’s staff,” he said.

APLE’s experience with institution-based investigations played a role in their being contacted by the Social Affairs Ministry, Samleang said. Samleang also noted that APLE, since its founding in 2003, has required criminal background checks of all of its employees.

In yesterday’s statement, Seila said it was “difficult to believe such a person, who started a mission to protect children more than 12 years ago, can abuse children”.

In a later interview, Seila insisted Vibol’s arrest wouldn’t seriously damage APLE’s credibility thanks to its willingness to investigate anyone suspected of abuse, regardless of prior affiliations.

“We are proud of the outcome of this investigation,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who the person is, we will still investigate them transparently.”

Vibol and his lawyer could not be reached yesterday.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STUART WHITE

MOST VIEWED

  • All inbound flights set to face added scrutiny

    Ministry of Health spokesperson Or Vandine said on Monday that the ministry is monitoring all inbound flights, after it was announced that only those from Malaysia and Indonesia will be temporarily cancelled from August 1. Vandine said on Monday that the two countries were identified as

  • Flights from Indonesia, Malaysia cancelled

    A Ministry of Health official has warned of the possibility of Covid-19 spreading through community transmission after the total infected cases in the Kingdom rose to 225. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine told reporters on Saturday that the possibility of community transmission cannot be overlooked and that

  • Man in quarantine dies of ‘overdose’

    The Ministry of Health on Thursday said a Cambodian migrant worker who died while being isolated at a quarantine centre in Tbong Khmum province’s Kroch Chhmar district may have died from syncope or overdose of tablets. In a statement, the ministry said the 21-year-old