Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UNICEF slams street sweeps

UNICEF slams street sweeps

Two children wait for a red light to sell their wares to commuters in Phnom Penh this year
Two children wait for a red light to sell their wares to commuters in Phnom Penh this year. UNICEF yesterday called for street sweeps to be halted, saying they violated children’s rights. Vireak Mai

UNICEF slams street sweeps

Following the detention this week of homeless children as young as 1 year old at Phnom Penh’s notorious Prey Speu vocational training centre, UNICEF yesterday called for an end to street sweeps and arbitrary detentions.

Three people rounded up on Sunday said in separate accounts this week that children were among those taken against their will to the facility, where they were locked in a single room with no toilet, little ventilation and no access to health care.

The doors were only unlocked when officials from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR) arrived at the centre on Monday, allowing the 21 held there to return to the city.

“UNICEF joins the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, calling for an end to street sweeps and to seek opportunities for more constructive approaches,” Meas Bunly, a communications specialist at UNICEF Cambodia, said by email.

Street sweeps “abuse children’s rights and do not address the real problems”, she added. “UNICEF is clear on its position regarding institutionalization of children and Prey Speu is no exception.”

City Hall’s street sweep campaign was raised in discussions on Wednesday between Phnom Penh Governor Pa Socheatvong and Wan-Hea Lee, UNOHCHR’s country representative, according to a post on the municipality’s Facebook page.

During the meeting, Socheatvong said street sweeps would not end, because their purpose is to “educate, care for and give vocational training” to homeless people in collaboration with NGOs, the post says.

But Mith Samlanh and Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (PSE) – the NGOs partnered with the city’s efforts – said they had not been informed about Sunday’s roundup or asked to provide any help.

Both NGOs said they were concerned by the use of Prey Speu but would continue to work with the municipality to find solutions.

The Social Affairs Department could not be reached for comment yesterday, but on Wednesday pledged to continue its roundup over the Pchum Ben festival and to continue using Prey Speu.

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry issues warning over coronavirus outbreak

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday asked the public to be on “high alert” as a new virus wreaks havoc across Asia. However, no cases have been reported in the Kingdom thus far. The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has raised the alarm for its similarity to

  • First case of coronavirus reported in the Kingdom

    Cambodia reported its first case of the deadly 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on Monday, Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng announced. He said medical specialists detected the virus in a Chinese tourist in Sihanoukville. The minister said Jia Jianhua, 60, travelled from Wuhan city, where the outbreak

  • PM urges precaution amid virus outbreak

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday called on all Cambodians to bump up precautions to avoid contracting the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that has already killed more than 50 people in China. The prime minister told the public to remain calm but alert about the possibility of

  • Gov’t slams NGO over 2019 corruption report

    The government on Thursday slammed a report that described the Kingdom as highly corrupt. Government spokesperson Phay Siphan dismissed the latest Transparency International (TI) report as “just an advertisement of NGOs to promote their own interests”. Released on Thursday, the report puts Cambodia near the

  • Gov’t answers garment buyers’ complaint

    Some of the biggest buyers in the Kingdom’s garment sector have urged Prime Minister Hun Sen to address issues faced by unions and workers – a request a senior official said was out of touch with the situation on the ground. The letter addressed to

  • App to connect farmers to millions

    The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has soft-launched a mobile app that connects farmers with potential buyers and gives them access to critical market information. The ministry’s Agriculture Marketing Office chief Meach Yady said the ‘CamAgriMarket’ app gives farmers a platform to showcase