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Institution-based sex crimes raise concerns

George Moussallie (top) arrives at Phnom Penh Municipal Court last year after an APLE investigation led to his arrest.
George Moussallie (top) arrives at Phnom Penh Municipal Court last year after an APLE investigation led to his arrest. Pha Lina

Institution-based sex crimes raise concerns

Institution-based sex crimes against children and the threat of online pedophiles are a “growing concern” in Cambodia, child protection organisation APLE said in its annual report yesterday.

“Over the past few years, we have observed more institution-based abuse in orphanages and schools,” said Seila Samleang, the executive director of APLE Cambodia.

Religious institutions have also been implicated after several high-profile exposures of alleged sex crimes by Buddhist monks, according to the National Police’s Child Protection Unit (CPU).

Threats are also emerging in the online world, with offenders grooming children before visiting Cambodia, APLE says.

James McCabe, the head of CPU, said that online pedophile networks are hard to infiltrate because new members are often required to post child porn to get in.

However, both McCabe and APLE said authorities had improved in gathering and preserving evidence, which helps to build stronger cases that rely less on victim testimony.

APLE’s report said that it rescued 62 victims, provided legal support to 211 and social support and rehabilitation to 406 in 2015. In 2014, the organisation rescued 58 victims, supported 489 victims legally and 464 victims socially.

For both years, the number of convicted suspects in APLE-handled cases was 27.

McCabe said that in 2015, CPU saw 295 child sexual abuse cases across 21 provinces.

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