Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE Cambodia), with the Kampot Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Unit, has established a child-friendly interview room at the provincial police headquarters to protect vulnerable minors involved in cases of sexual abuse and exploitation.

Authorities also acknowledged the importance of such interview rooms.

APLE on Friday said the room aimed to ease the interview process for child victims of sexual abuse and exploitation, minimising their chances of suffering further trauma.

“Child-friendly rooms have been set up in other provinces. [These are] an essential part of our criminal justice development programme, which works closely with the National Police to promote the practice of child-friendly standards during investigations,” APLE said.

Khem Vando, a project manager with APLE, told The Post on Sunday that the NGO had already established three child-friendly rooms.

The first is based in the Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department of the National Police.

The other two are in the National Police’s Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Units in Siem Reap and Kandal provinces.

Vando said he believed the establishment of further child-friendly rooms would assist provincial authorities in the delicate interview process in cases involving children and help gain the trust of young victims.

“In our experience of having worked alongside the police, they usually did not have child-friendly rooms. But some police officials looked at protecting children’s privacy."

“Child-friendly rooms are designed with children in mind using expert recommendations. For example, the design of the decor and furniture, and the use of toys,” Vando said.

Chen Ov, chief of the Kampot provincial Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Unit, said local authorities had worked closely and successfully with APLE in investigating cases of child sexual abuse and exploitation.

“One of the greatest assets of the child-friendly room initiative is its creativity as well as its promotion of a culture of partnership between police officials, the child victims and witnesses."

“In provinces where such rooms have been set up, they have established positive interactions and built trust between the parties involved,” Ov said.

Provincial police chief Mao Chan Makthurith told The Post that child-friendly rooms had significantly aided authorities in investigating crimes against children and protecting the vulnerable.

“The room we have prepared is very important because when we take a child victim there, he feels more relaxed. It is easier to get information from them as well,” Makthurith said.

APLE also plans to establish further child-friendly rooms in target areas such as Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Kampong Cham provinces, Vando said.

Collaboration and support from relevant parties were required to formulate viable strategies to help child victims of sexual abuse across the country, he added.