NGO Committee on the Rights of the Child (NGOCRC), is a coalition of
national and international non-government organizations (NGOs) working
together to advocate for the rights of children and monitor the
implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Cambodia (CRC).
The NGOCRC was established in 1994 and there are currently 34 NGO members.
In 2002, there are approximately 200 NGOs in Cambodia working specifically
comprise 52.1% percent of the population in Cambodia, and with an
estimated 36% of Cambodians living in poverty, the challenge to reduce
poverty must include measures specific to the special needs of children.
Cambodia’s future and economic growth depends on the survival and
development of its children. As Cambodia develops, poor and vulnerable
children will be further marginalised without targeted programs, inclusive
planning and cooperation. Child Rights is a governance issue, insofar as
the realisation of those rights requires leadership, commitment, and
resources on the part of the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC). The key
areas needing attention include policy development, human and economic
resource development and allocation, and the development, application and
enforcement of laws to protect children. Child Rights is a crosscutting
issue, and as such, this paper complements several of the other sector
papers, in particular, the education and health sectors.
Progress on Key Issues
CRC Implementation and
The Cambodian National Council for Children (CNCC) has created three sub-committees: The sub-committee for countering trafficking and sexual exploitation of children; the sub-committee on Child Labor and other forms of Exploitation; and, the sub-committee for legislating child-related laws.
2000, the subcommittee for countering trafficking and sexual exploitation
of children, with the support of UNICEF and ILO, produced the National
Five Year Plan Against Trafficking and Exploitation of Children. This has
been followed by a series of seminars to implement the plan for relevant
ministries, provincial authorities, NGOs and International Agencies. In
addition to organizing seminars, the subcommittee has participated in
regional and global conferences on sexual exploitation of children.
subcommittee on legislation has set up a working group to draft laws.
Currently the subcommittee is working on a draft law to have a juvenile
court function as part of Cambodian court The RGC has ratified the two
Optional Protocols of the CRC demonstrating its commitment to Child
2001, the government organized a seminar on the Recommendations/Concluding
Observation of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on Cambodia State
Parties Report. The RGC, with financial support from UNICEF, has fully
supported and organized the global movement: “Say Yes Campaign”.
Abuses, Exploitation and Trafficking of Children:
Cambodian government has strengthened its response to dealing with this
issue by raising the profile of abuse, exploitation and trafficking of
children, and forming stronger networks with organizations working to
combat this problem. An extradition and repatriation agreement has been
signed between Cambodia and Thailand to repatriate trafficked Cambodian
children and about 200 children are returned weekly to Cambodia to be
rehabilitated and reintegrated. The number of victims of abuse,
exploitation and trafficking appears to have risen over the last 12
months, but this could be due to increased reporting and intervention.
There only have been 6-7 offenders convicted for these crimes. This number
is very low compared to the reported prevalence of this illegal activity.
The Cambodian government is mid-way through the Five Year Plan of Action
Against Sexual Exploitation of Children, however the progress of
implementation is very slow. In a well-known red light district of Phnom
Penh, Svay Pak, there are children as young as 7 years old forced to
orphaned by AIDS have been put into orphanages 1,2, 3 and 4. There is
insufficient care and limited services
and research show an increase in drug use among children and youth. The
RGC has made some effort in combating the abuses of substances through a
creation of National Authority for Combating Drug Abuse, but there remains
a lack of prevention services, and lack of alternatives to drug taking,
such as recreation facilities, training and employment opportunities. The
RGC is now in the process of considering the establishment of treatment
and rehabilitation centers for drug victims, and it will be important to
be inclusive of children and young people in the service development and
planning. The RGC has made efforts to create and strengthen networks at
the provincial/municipal level to crack down on the illicit use and
transfer of drugs. NGOs, with the recognition of the Government, have
established a Drug Abuse Forum for those who need help or information.
adoption of Cambodian children to foreign countries has become known as a
burning issue in the last few years. It has developed into a lucrative
industry and resulting in criminal and exploitative practices by some
involved. LICADHO investigations have revealed clear patterns and networks
in the process of trafficking of babies and young children, beginning with
local recruiters who pay and coerce poor and vulnerable mother to give up
their babies, who end up in orphanages controlled by adoption facilitators
with link to foreign adoption agencies. Subsequent attempts by biological
parents to recover their children or even visit them are refused. Cases of
fraudulent paperwork with false histories of supposed “orphans” have
been documented, and the Cambodian Government approval process for
adoption is widely believed to be corrupt. The current adoption system
does not adequately protect children, birth parents or prospective foreign
is no juvenile justice at all in Cambodia, and legislation has little
prescribed support for children, Based on our research, children in
conflict with law are being detained with adults. There were 239 minors in
adult prisons in December 2001; of these 31% were still awaiting trial.
The number keeps increasing daily. The Cambodian Justice system does not
provide rehabilitation and education support to children while they are in
prisons. Subsequently, 6 out of 10 children released from prison are
committing more serious crimes and are often subject to beatings when
In some cases juveniles were detained up to 11 months, contrary to the law,
which permits only 2 months pre-trial detention. This is an unacceptable
situation, which places children in conflict with the law at serious risk
the lack of alternatives to imprisonment means that the principle of
prison as a last resort can not be applied. The purpose and mandate of the
Youth Detention Centre in Phnom Penh is unclear, which may lead to illegal
I. CRC IMPLEMENTATION AND MONITORING:
2. ABUSES, EXPLOITATION AND TRAFFICKING OF CHILDREN:
6. JUVENILE JUSTICE
The RGC should make more
effort to implement CRC and review laws and legislate to ensure CRC
compliance. It should seek to enter child-related international treaties.
It should give more focus to practical implementation, not just
planning and workshops.