Prime Minister Hun Sen has issued a six-point message on the occasion of the 71st anniversary of International Children’s Day on June 1, Cambodian Children’s Day, also on June 1 and the 19th anniversary of the World Day Against Child Labour on June 12.
In a letter dated May 26, he said while the country usually celebrates these days, the outbreak of Covid-19 will prevent any celebrations this year, although the days will still be recognised.
In his message, Hun Sen said Covid-19 has claimed lives, including those of women and children, but Cambodia has yet to see any deaths from the disease.
Covid-19 has particularly affected children, especially those in poverty because access to education and friendships has dwindled.
To contribute to the anniversary of the three most important days for children, he called on the relevant ministries to implement measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 to children everywhere.
The prime minister said the relevant ministries should make every effort to ensure that all children have equal access to education, sanitation and clean water during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“All measures put forward by ministries and relevant institutions to prevent the Covid-19 pandemic must take into account the interests of children, especially those in alternative care and children living in detention facilities.
“We must pay more attention to the mental and physical health of children directly or indirectly affected by Covid-19 and we must allow them to participate in decisions that affect their lives,” Hun Sen said.
The Prime Minister also urged the authorities to participate in village safety policies, take measures to protect them from all forms of violence, educate children against sexual abuse and harassment, teach them to stay away from drugs and encourage them to report abuse to adults and the authorities.
He urged the relevant institutions to implement the core measures of international organisations on the elimination of child labour, and raise awareness and train and disseminate information about it.
Also, he said the authorities must strengthen child labour inspection measures and mobilise resources and public support for children.
Hun Sen further called on all public and private television stations, radio stations and social media outlets to promote the protection of children from violence and child labour, and have programmes for children to prevent and stop them becoming victims.
The deputy director of monitoring at Licadho Am Sam Ath said Cambodia has done a lot to promote child rights and child protection. However, he said problems persist. “Physical violence and sexual abuse of children remains an issue,” Sam Ath said.
He called on relevant ministries to prevent child abuse, child labour and physical and mental abuse of children.
Sam Ath said in the context of Covid-19, the government should ensure that children receive the same education, especially those in rural areas who have difficulty accessing online and distance learning programmes.