Cambodia and the ASEAN nations co-hosted an information technology forum, which ended in a joint commitment to protect children from online exploitation.

The forum was held on November 2, with the support of UNICEF and the Cambodian government. Also joining the forum were development partners, youth advocates and relevant parties from the private sector.

“All children have the right to live in a world of peace, free from exploitation and abuse online,” said a UNICEF statement.

“The purpose of the forum was to eliminate online child abuse. It is a challenge that requires the cooperation of all stakeholders to prevent,” said Touch Channy, director-general of the General Department of Technical Affairs under the Ministry of Social Affairs Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation.

“The whole of ASEAN has made a joint commitment to curb and combat the online exploitation of children and youth,” he added.

He also said the ASEAN countries would soon issue a statement detailing the actions they would be taking.

He added they intended to approach telecommunications companies and internet providers to encourage the reporting of any attempts at trafficking or harassment of children online.

Meas Saim, ADHOC deputy director of women and children’s rights, said the forum showed good progress in dealing with the issue was being made. Children were still being exploited online, so rapid action is important.

“I don’t know if it will be possible to completely eliminate this kind of crime, because of the speed technology changes at. Regardless, we must all be united in minimising its impact on children and punishing any perpetrators we come across,” she added.

She backed calls for the private sector to police its own networks to a greater extent.

The Cambodian National Council for Children issued a September 30 report which revealed that 16 per cent of children suffered from online sexual exploitation, mainly via social media. 16 per cent of children have been sent unwanted sexual images and 9 per cent were asked to share pictures of a sexual nature.