Launch of campaign and reports on violations of Children's legal rights and living conditions in prison

Joint Organizations

January 29, 2007 - Nearly 500 children are currently detained in Cambodia’s prisons. For these children, the prisons they call “home” are overcrowded, unhygienic and lacking in basic facilities. Many are detained with adults, are regularly held in pre-trial detention that exceeds the legal time limit, and many are sentenced to prison time without any regard to their age. They suffer the same poor living conditions, food rations and health provisions as the detained adults and have limited access to education, training and legal representation.

The Securing Children’s Rights project is co-funded by the European Union and jointly implemented by LICADHO, Legal Aid of Cambodia (LAC) and DanChurchAid (DCA). The project operates in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Battambang, Siem Reap, Kandal and Kampot provinces. The overall aim of the programme is that children and minors should be properly protected in legal and labour institutions. Children should be protected against dangerous work, e.g. prostitution and unregulated industrial work; they should have access to legal representation and their interests should be protected by government and authorities at all levels.

LAC, LICADHO and DCA will launch a campaign Children in Prison - No Place To Grow Up on 31st January 2007 to highlight the overall poor conditions in Cambodia’s prisons and in particular the key issues affecting detained children. The campaign will run until International Children’s Day on 1st June 2007. The campaign will consist of a variety of activities over a 4 month period. The campaign is calling for children to be given protection, fairness and hope not injustice, neglect and despair. In particular, to advocate for the implementation of existing laws relating to juvenile justice and legal and social reforms relating to detention specifically for juveniles.

At the start of this campaign, two reports will be launched which deal with children in the Cambodian criminal justice system and in particular children in prison. LAC will publish the findings of research into the situation of children in conflict with the law in Cambodia. The research highlights concerns regarding excessive pre-trial detention of juveniles and access to legal representation by juveniles in prison. LICADHO will publish its 2006 Prison Report which sets out concerns about prison conditions generally as well as the experiences of minors in custody. This report will be available in English and Khmer in the traditional written format, and also as an audio report in Khmer.

In the afternoon of the 31st January, a radio broadcast on 105 FM will be aired from 2:30pm to 4:00pm. This broadcast will have direct accounts of children’s experiences in prison as well as the views from their families.

A media conference will be held at the LICADHO office on January 31st 2007 to draw attention to the problems faced by children in prison. The LAC and LICADHO reports will be made available to the media at the conference. At the same time, the reality of life for children in prison, and their families, will be presented through the actual experiences of children and young people who have been held in detention.

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