International Children's Day 2006

Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)

May 29, 2006 - “The trafficking, exploitation, and abuse of children are gross forms of human rights violations,” says Naly Pilorge, Director of LICADHO on the occasion of International Children’s Day.

On June 1, 2006, LICADHO will commemorate this day through activities promoting children’s rights and distributing essential material and food to children and pregnant women in prison.

The activities will highlight the situation of child trafficking, child sexual exploitation and child labour. In 2005, 304 cases of child rights abuse and exploitation were reported to LICADHO alone, a substantial increase of 20.2% from the previous year. Of these cases, rape represented the highest incident of abuse, at almost 70% of total reported cases.

“We hope LICADHO will be able to raise awareness of children’s rights in the wider community on International Children’s Day” says Thav Kim San, LICADHO’s Children’s Rights Coordinator.

Children are commonly trafficked against their will for sexual exploitation, forced labour and illegal adoption. It is difficult to ascrtain the exact number of children trafficked but as Cambodia is a country of origin, transit and destination for trafficking, it is likely to be staggering figure.

Evidence also strongly suggests that greater numbers of children are now being sexually exploited. Surveys conducted by NGOs indicate that there are 17 000 underage sex workers in Phnom Penh, of which 80% are trafficked against their will.

One such incident occurred in February 2006 where a fellow villager took a 14 year old girl from Kandal province to Phnom Penh, under the guise of going to a party. However
on her first night in Phnom Penh, the victim was locked inside a brothel, sold to the owner and then forced to take 5 clients a day. While local authorities in partnership with LICADHO intervened and assisted the victim, Thav Kim San says, “We need to promote better cooperation between child protection groups, local authorities and LICADHO to prevent violations and protect children.”

Furthermore, according to the 2001 Cambodia Child Labor Survey conducted by the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labor, more than 50% of the Kingdom’s youth aged 5-17 are engaged in labor. In 2003, the National Institute of Statistics also reported that nearly 28 000 children work in the domestic service industry.

Activities organized by LICADHO and other NGOs in partnership with local authorities will focus on these issues. They will be held in the following locations:

- Chamka Leu district at Chamka Leu district office
- Kien Svay district at Wat Chroy Ampil
- Koh Kong province at Koh Kong Stadium
- Siem Reap province at Wat Thmey
- Sihanoukville at Sihanoukville Theatre Hall
- Kampot at Wat Uttumpor in front of Kompong Trach Market
- Khan Dangkor at Sangkat Dangkor
- Moukampoul district at Chea Sim High School

All events will begin at 3.00pm and finish at 9.30pm. It will include interviews, quizzes, musical and theatrical performances and the symbolic release of balloons. Subsistence will also be given to vulnerable children and victims of violations.

LICADHO will also distribute essential material and food to young children who live in difficult conditions with their parents in prison and barely survive on 2 meals a day. In 18 of the 24 prisons monitored by LICADHO, they number 37, a figure continually increasing. According to Chin Lyda, LICADHO’s Prison’s Project Supervisor, “These children need to be protected from abuse and programs need to be developed by the government to ensure their mental well being.” In addition, 468 juvenile delinquents and pregnant women in prison will also receive a distribution.

On June 1, a date celebrated in Cambodia since 1949, children and NGOs including LICADHO will join others around the world to mark International Children’s Day.

For more information, please contact:
 Ms Naly Pilorge, Director of LICADHO, Tel 012 803 650
 Mr Thav Kim San, Child Right’s Coordinator, Tel 012 813 581

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