Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New facility for young offenders

New facility for young offenders

A correctional officer stands next to a detained child at a Banteay Meanchey prison in 2009. Post staff
A correctional officer stands next to a detained child at a Banteay Meanchey prison in 2009. Post staff

New facility for young offenders

The Ministry of Social Affairs yesterday confirmed it would construct a new national facility to rehabilitate child offenders.

The news follows a meeting last Thursday when spokesman Touch Channy told attendees that the new centre to detain juvenile offenders would be built following the recent adoption of the Juvenile Justice Law. The bill was signed into law by King Norodom Sihamoni in July.

“This law protects the children under a certain age [18-years-old],” Channy said yesterday. “With this law we don’t keep those children at the prisons; we keep them at the rehabilitation centres.”

Channy could not name the kinds of services that would be offered or a specific timeframe for the building’s completion, but said juveniles who broke the law would be “educated”.

Huy Hoeurn, the deputy-general of prisons, welcomed the news about the centre. He said it was sorely needed as he had witnessed children as young as 12 – below the age of criminal responsibility threshold of 14 – being detained alongside adult female prisoners at Prey Sar.

“At the prison now there is no proper system to educate those underage children for the wrongdoing; there is hardly anything to make them reform,” Hoeurn said.

Nhep Sopheap, the secretary-general of the National Cambodian Council for Children, said the juvenile detention centre would be located at the Khmer-French-Hungarian Friendship Orphanage Centre in Kandal province.

“It’s going to be a national rehabilitation centre. This is our priority. Of course there is demand at the provincial level also,” Sopheap said. “What we are lacking now is training and education for social workers.”

The Kandal orphanage is the same site, Channy announced in July, where people with mental disabilities currently detained at the capital’s notorious Prey Speu detention centre would be moved.

However, Billy Gorter, of This Life Cambodia, a juvenile rehabilitation NGO, said it was paramount that children were not detained alongside adults.

“Children should always be separated from adults in detention facilities and, foremost, provided robust therapeutic interventions to meet each child’s individual needs,” he said via email. He added that the new law lacked some clarity on how “diversion” away from the criminal justice system would be implemented.

“Considering the government is committing to keeping children in families and reducing the number of children in institutions, such legislation leaves a lot of room for interpretation if parents or guardians are unable to be traced in the first instance,” Gorter said.

“We would hope that detention of any individual, especially children under the age of 18, was a last resort and [only] after all other alternatives had been explored,” he said.

Spokespeople from UNICEF and Save the Children declined to comment yesterday.

MOST VIEWED

  • ‘Education’ a priority traffic-law penalty

    A top National Police official on June 21 neither rejected nor confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audio message, which has gone viral on social media, on a waiver of fines for a number of road traffic-related offences. General Him Yan, deputy National Police chief in

  • Volunteer scheme to foster ‘virtuous’ humanitarian spirit

    A senior education official said volunteer work contributes to solidarity and promotes a virtuous humanitarian spirit among the youth and communities. Serei Chumneas, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, made the comment during the opening of a training programme called “

  • Chinese firms unveil preliminary results on metro, monorail for capital

    Minister of Public Works and Transport Sun Chanthol and representatives from China Road and Bridge Corp (CRBC) and its parent company, the state-owned China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC), met on June 24 for talks on results of the firms’ preliminary study on a potential metro

  • ACLEDA, WU to enable global money transfers

    Cambodia's largest commercial bank by total assets ACLEDA Bank Plc and global money transfer firm Western Union (WU) have partnered to offer customers cross-border money transfers to 200 countries via “ACLEDA mobile” app. In Channy, president and group managing director of ACLEDA, said the June 22 agreement

  • Aeon, Micromax partner again for third mall

    AEON Mall (Cambodia) Co Ltd and a locally-owned Micromax Co Ltd have entered into a partnership agreement to develop fibre optic infrastructure for $200 million Aeon Mall 3, which is expected to be opened in 2023. The agreement was signed on June 20 between Masayuki Tsuboya, managing director of

  • Walmart plans to diversify stock of Cambodia goods

    Walmart Inc, the world’s biggest retailer, on June 22 reiterated recent plans to scale up and greatly diversify its purchases of Cambodian products, according to the labour ministry. This came during a virtual working meeting between Minister of Labour and Vocational Training Ith Samheng and