In an effort to shore up the evidence trail in rape cases, doctors throughout
the country have been trained in the use of a new standardized medical
The incidence of sexual assault against women and
children is disturbingly high in Cambodia, but conviction rates remain
relatively low, with lack of evidence adding to the usual judicial complaints of
corruption, intimidation of victims and out of court settlements.
the suspect is released by the court because of a lack of evidence, even though
we know the victim has been raped ... so now we're working on the forensic
evidence," said Christian Guth, a law enforcement advisor to the Ministry of
Interior's Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department. "If the
file is really heavy with hard facts it makes it more difficult for the judge to
release [the suspect]."
The eight-page medical examination form can be
requested by investigating police and used by the judge, prosecutor and lawyers
for the victim and suspect.
On September 15, the donor-funded Law
Enforcement Against Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children project held
a workshop involving 100 doctors from Phnom Penh and each province to explain
the new form and how it is to be used.
Better use of medical evidence is
part of a training effort that has seen specialized police learn interview
techniques for both victims and suspects, improve their search practices and
receive equipment such as field investigating kits and cameras.
Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department is based in Phnom Penh
and has 11 provincial branches.
From the start of this year to August 31,
police from the department investigated 351 cases of rape or sexual assault,
resulting in 251 arrests, said Guth, who was confident that with improved
policing and medical evidence a large of number of cases would result in
Last year, local human rights group LICADHO investigated 177
complaints of rape and indecent assault, resulting in just five trials and four
Of those victims, LICADHO said that 78 percent were under
18 years old, with almost 9 percent five years or younger.