Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gov’t shuts down orphanages over abuses

Gov’t shuts down orphanages over abuses

Detained people sit around the grounds of the notorious Prey Speu social affairs centre on the outskirts of Phnom Penh last year.
Detained people sit around the grounds of the notorious Prey Speu social affairs centre on the outskirts of Phnom Penh last year. Pha Lina

Gov’t shuts down orphanages over abuses

The government has closed down several orphanages for violating children’s rights in the past year, with almost 200 children removed from centres rife with rape, physical abuse, trafficking or inadequate food, according to a state report released yesterday.

The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation’s 2015 annual report also revealed details of the government’s ongoing round-ups of thousands of the homeless.

According to the report, 190 children were transferred from seven orphanages that failed to live up to minimum standards of care and management.

A further 275 children were moved into family or community care – the first small step in the government’s stated mission to reduce the 11,017 children in orphanages by 30 per cent by 2018.

The report also reported 2,400 homeless people and beggars were rounded up last year, with 900 of those in Phnom Penh.

Toch Channy, spokesperson for the Ministry of Social Affairs, told the Post that there were currently 108 people living in the notorious Prey Speu centre, which houses the capital’s “undesirables”.

“There are some NGOs requesting us to shut it down, but we won’t do it,” he said.

“We won’t close it, but we will renovate it. We will make it look better than before.”

In yet another re-branding of the controversial centre, where two people died last October, it is to be renamed the “Phnom Penh Transit Centre”.

“We will not only change the name, we will also change the management and leadership. We will construct more buildings and add more staff to ensure the people living there have good health and enough food to eat,” Channy said.

Iman Morooka, UNICEF Cambodia’s chief of communications, supported the government’s move to reduce the number of children living in residential care, saying more than three-quarters (77 per cent) of children in orphanages have at least one living parent.

“Residential care has been shown to place children at increased risk of physical and sexual abuse,” she said via email.

“Staff and volunteers seldom undergo appropriate background checks before being hired to work with children. Most residential centres do not have a system in place for children to report abuse.”

Funding problems in Cambodian residential care centres often resulted in child labour, the communications chief said, and the government needed to strengthen its capacity with a sufficient number of social workers, “stronger oversight of residential care institutions, and follow-up mechanisms to continue support for the child and the family”.

MOST VIEWED

  • Prince Norodom Ranariddh passes away at 77

    Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the second son of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk and former First Prime Minister of Cambodia, has passed away in France at the age of 77. “Samdech Krom Preah Norodom Ranariddh has passed away this morning in France just after 9am Paris-time,”

  • General’s gun smuggling ring busted

    The Military Police sent six military officers to court on November 22 to face prosecution for possession of 105 illegal rifles and arms smuggling, while investigators say they are still hunting down additional accomplices. Sao Sokha, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and commander of

  • Cambodia, Thailand to discuss border reopening

    Cambodian authorities from provinces along the Cambodia-Thailand border will meet with Thai counterparts to discuss reopening border checkpoints to facilitate travel, transfer of products and cross-border trade between the two countries. Banteay Meanchey provincial deputy governor Ly Sary said on November 22 that the provincial administration

  • More Cambodians studying in US

    The number of Cambodian students studying at US colleges and universities in 2020-21 increased by 14.3 per cent over the previous year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a recent US government report. The 2021 Open Doors report on International Educational Exchange showed that 848 Cambodian students studied

  • Banteay Meanchey gunfight sees 15 Thais arrested, three officers injured

    The Banteay Meanchey Military Police have arrested 15 Thai suspects and their accomplices after a gun battle between two Thai groups caused injuries to three police officers in the early hours of November 21, local authorities said. National Military Police spokesman Eng Hy said that according to

  • PM: Do not defile Tonle Sap swamp forest or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered police to arrest anyone – including government officials – involved with the deforestation of the flooded forests surrounding the Tonle Sap Lake because it is an area important to the spawning of many species of fish, among other reasons. Speaking in a