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Gov’t committed to promoting child rights

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Children head home from school in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district on May 30. Heng Chivoan

Gov’t committed to promoting child rights

Prime Minister Hun Sen has reaffirmed the government’s commitment to promoting child rights, urging all state institutions and relevant authorities to make every effort to increase the power of children, especially girls.

He said the government is also committed to making significant changes that will address the root causes of discrimination, social exclusion and the vulnerability of children.

The premier – who is also honorary president of the Cambodia National Council for Children (CNCC) – made the pledge in a message marking National Children’s Day and the 73rd anniversary of International Children’s Day on June 1, and ahead of the 21st anniversary of the World Day Against Child Labour on June 12.

He encouraged all compatriots, especially children themselves, to recognise that they are the ones who must eventually take charge in rebuilding and developing Cambodian society.

“Do not despair. Although we may be in need of human resources, if we invest in children today, we will ensure that we have the potential to sustain Cambodia’s future development,” he said.

Hun Sen said that although the government has not organised celebrations of Children’s Day for three consecutive years since 2020, he has never forgotten the historic day.

He also reaffirmed Cambodia’s commitment to becoming stronger through peace, accountability and responsibility.

As a member of the Global Partnership for the Elimination of Violence against Children, he said Cambodia has stepped forward in the spirit of joint commitment to the elimination of violence – and all forms of abuse – against children in an effort to improve the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

“It is for this reason that Cambodia has become one of the ASEAN countries selected for scientific research on the situation of violence against children. The research will determine the extent and scope of the physical, emotional and sexual violence that children face, including challenges,” he said.

The premier added that recently, Cambodia had achieved many great results for children, including the approval and implementation of the five-year Action Plan to Prevent and Respond to Online Child Sexual Exploitation (OCSE Action Plan 2021-2025), National Child Protection System Policy 2021-2025, a policy on parenting through parents and relatives, guidelines for child protection from online exploitation, and draft child protection laws.

Hun Sen also acknowledged that the protection and safety of children – and the full implementation of children’s rights – must be carried out by all stakeholders. The protection of children is a multi-disciplinary task that must be worked on together. Therefore, the national budget has provided funds to do so to all relevant ministries and institutions at the national and sub-national level, he added.

“I urge authorities at all levels to continue to strengthen coordination mechanisms to prevent, intervene or respond to all cases involving children, in order to promote and provide social justice services by ensuring equality between boys and girls,” he said.

He instructed the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation to continue improving social services, especially counselling, rehabilitation and integration for vulnerable children. Priority should be given to girls, indigenous children and children with disabilities.

He also called on the CNCC to continue to work with ministries and institutions at both the national and sub-national levels – using existing mechanisms – to promote the implementation of the UNCRC to achieve the government’s rectangular strategy and ensure sustainable Cambodian development.

“Authorities at all levels must continue to promote the organisation and implementation of child protection systems so they are multi-sectoral – to help children in all areas of our community,” Hun Sen said.

Recently, the CNCC published a letter requesting the severe punishment of a woman who abused her five-year-old housemaid in Phnom Penh’s Toul Kork district.

“This act seriously violates the rights of the child – especially the right to protection – which Cambodia has ratified and enshrined in the Constitution,” it said.

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court detained the woman on May 27 and placed her in pre-trial detention on charges of aggravated intentional violence.

The CNCC – the coordinating body for child rights work – called on authorities at all levels, especially the courts, to punish the most severe cases so that these atrocities no longer mar Cambodian society.

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