Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Police get primer on interviewing children



Police get primer on interviewing children

The Child Protection Unit (CPU) holds a police training session on child interviewing techniques in Phnom Penh
The Child Protection Unit (CPU) holds a police training session on child interviewing techniques in Phnom Penh yesterday. Vireak Mai

Police get primer on interviewing children

Sitting in groups around tables, two dozen National Police officers read from training handouts featuring a picture of a battered girl in the front.

Each officer came to the training sessions this week to learn how to interview similar victims.

The training is on questioning “vulnerable victims who may have suffered the worst crimes imaginable”, said John Geden, a volunteer training coordinator for the Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF) and the Kingdom’s Child Protection Unit (CPU). “What we are teaching is a professional approach whereby a prosecutor and a judge receive a detailed account, whereby they won’t feel the need to interview [a child victim] again.”

Repeated interviews can re-traumatise children, and cause them to feel that people think they are lying, he said.

National Police officers from 15 provinces across the country attended the week-long workshop, said James McCabe, CPU’s director of operations. Geden said 23 women and one man attended the course, which is sponsored by CCF.

The lopsided gender ratio was designed to give children a maximum amount of comfort while answering questions about distressing events said Mok Chito, a deputy National Police commissioner.

“We have learned that the use of female police officers when interviewing children is the most successful,” Chito said. “Especially with girls who were raped or sexually abused, because this way they don’t feel shame.”

The course is the first of its kind in Cambodia, Geden said at one of the sessions held at the capital’s Icon building yesterday. Attendees learn about how a child thinks, how to build a rapport with a victimised child and how to extract a testimony solid enough to put a perpetrator behind bars without inducing further trauma, he said.

Child victims must be treated in a specialised manner when being interviewed by law enforcement officials about being victimised, especially in cases of sexual abuse or violence, McCabe said. More than adults, children are prone to accidentally giving conflicting testimony, forgetting certain details and feeling intimidated by having their story questioned.

“One of the primary reasons [for the training] is if we elicit a good and credible statement in the first place, it will take the pressure off the child possibly having to recant,” McCabe said. “[The training is] all about memory, the way children respond to questions, rapport, interview techniques, dealing with irresponsive children.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where