The Cambodian Human Rights Committee (CHRC) and the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation announced the establishment of a joint monitoring body that will examine the human rights situation in the facilities administered by the social affairs ministry.
According to a CHRC statement, a working group of the committee’s General Department of Investigation and Human Rights Education, led by CHRC Vice President Chin Malin, met with social affairs ministry secretary of state Sok Buntha on June 7 to discuss the work.
It said the meeting was held to discuss strengthening cooperation in the protection and promotion of human rights in the rehabilitation centers, drug treatment centres, shelters and orphanages across the country which are governed by the social affairs ministry.
“Both sides raised several issues, and then devised joint solutions for them. For example, by establishing a cooperation mechanism to monitor the human rights situation, they will be better able to ensure that children who live with their mothers in these facilities will be able to access education and healthcare,” it added.
Rights group LICADHO deputy director Am Sam Ath said the introduction of a joint monitoring body is a positive step, as he has observed some complex issues at some of the ministry’s facilities, most notably the Prey Speu Social Affairs centre in Phnom Penh.
He explained that these issues include reports of violence and various forms of abuse, as well as a lack of access to healthcare. The centre serves to rehabilitate homeless people and drug addicts, with many of them regularly transported there.
“Establishing a mechanism between the two institutions that will monitor living conditions in the centres is a good thing, provided they pay close attention to the resident’s right to life, food, and medical services,” he said. “It is also important that if someone refuses to move into the centre, they should not be forced to.”
Sam Ath also suggested that legal and judicial systems be established to protect the minors and children who are living in the centres with their mothers.