Sar Kheng, vice president of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and former interior minister, has bestowed commendation certificates to 16 members of the Child Protection Unit (CPU), recognising their decade-long dedication to protecting the Kingdom’s children.

Each certificate lauds the members’ commitment to shielding minors from abuse and exploitation. Their important contributions to the care and treatment of victims and probes into incidents involving the young throughout the country were also acknowledged, according to CPU’s September 21 media release.

The CPU, founded in 2013, represents a partnership between the Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF) and the Cambodian National Police. Their shared goal is to investigate severe offenses against minors in the country and the Southeast Asian region, the release said.

Over the years, the entity has grown to encompass four departments: the Homicide Investigation Team (HIT), Forensic Services Team (FST), Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) and the Office of Victim and Family Services (OVFS).

“Over the past decade, our unit has achieved significant milestones, not only in arrests and convictions but also in saving and restoring countless lives,” stated James McCabe, director of operations for CPU. “I am profoundly proud of the team and grateful for the government’s recognition.”

McCabe thanked the supporters of the CPU’s mission, particularly highlighting Scott Neeson, founder of CCF, for his consistent trust and encouragement.

“His belief in our cause has helped save countless minors,” he said.

According to Neeson, also executive director of CCF, the CPU’s vision and execution have been led by McCabe.

“It’s a remarkable group with outstanding results,” he said.

According to the CPU, this year has seen 269 cases handled, a rise from 242 in 2022. Operating in all 25 provinces, the unit boasts experienced officers, forensic experts and aftercare specialists to tackle major crimes against the youth.

“The CPU contributed to a sixfold increase in conviction rates for incidents involving youngsters, reaching 86 per cent in 2018. They’ve examined over 300 homicides of juveniles over a decade,” said the press release, highlighting the unit’s achievements.

The organisation also launched 118 probes into online threats, ranging from grooming to child pornography distribution since it launched its first specialist unit in Cambodia to tackle the growing threat of cyber crimes against children.

Their work in the last ten years has resulted in 1,998 arrests, ensuring 5,896 cumulative years of prison sentences for offenders, including 20 life terms. Beyond judicial achievements, the CPU provided support to over 10,500 family members and free legal representation to 1,101 victims.