An orphanage director in Siem Reap was questioned last Friday by police after claims that he used children to distribute leaflets and solicit donations from tourists at the Angkor temples.
Major Chea Heng, chief of the province’s Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Police, said that Tuon Boran, president of the Cambodian Development Sunshine Community Organization, along with a co-ordinator at the orphanage had encouraged about six children to “beg for money from foreign tourists” over two days last week.
The children were all under the age of 10 and were orphans residing in Boran’s centre.
Chao Leak Vanna, a provincial monitor for human rights group Licadho in Siem Reap, confirmed the accusations.
Vanna said that according to his own investigations, the Cambodian Development Sunshine Community Organization had posted two groups of children at the Bakong Temple.
“[Boran] used children to find private sponsors for his organisation by distributing the leaflets,” said Vanna, adding that this amounted to a form of exploitation.
He said the organisation’s activity violated the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and was strictly prohibited by Cambodian government.
“Foreign tourists who are interested in the children’s living conditions and lives should contribute their money or donations like food to them directly,” added Vanna, calling the activity an inappropriate way to attempt to fundraise.
Boran could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Despite the allegations, the duo was released with only a warning.
Heng said that the pair were allowed to return home after they signed a contract and promised to cease from such exploitation in the future.
Police will monitor the organisation’s activities to ensure they stuck to their end of the agreement, he added
“We will continue to investigate them and their organisation’s activities. If they are still using children to beg money from tourists, we will take strict action and bring them to court,” he said.