A collaborative effort involving the Ministry of Interior, Phnom Penh municipal police, Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Police Command, as well as the NGO Child Protection Unit (CPU) and its Task Force FOXTROT23, has rescued three children from sexual exploitation.

Following a two-month investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse and the production of child pornography in the capital, they arrested a Swiss national while working to identify other suspects.

This operation represents one of the most substantial initiatives undertaken by the CPU in its decade-long commitment to combating crimes against children in Cambodia and Southeast Asia.

Between September 26 and 28, investigators executed search warrants at multiple locations, revealing a cache of evidence that included mobile phones, cameras, laptops, professional-grade film lighting equipment, lubricants and drugs.

CPU director James McCabe described the findings as "extremely disturbing" and indicative of individuals involved in the filming and production of child pornography – a crime with far-reaching global and regional consequences.

“In 10 years, this is the first time the CPU has encountered such a professional setup. It is a credit to the Cambodian National Police that they acted so decisively to prevent such crimes and rescue the children,” he said.

McCabe expressed gratitude to National Police chief Sar Thet, deputy National Police chief Chiv Phally and Phnom Penh police chief Chhuon Narin for their guidance and leadership in the probe.

The ongoing investigation also attracted the involvement of the Swiss Federal Office of Police, who are working in collaboration with CPU’s Task Force FOXTROT23.

“I want to make it very clear that this investigation is ongoing and all persons involved will be identified. The task force is utilising the services of its international police partners and will not stop until all persons involved no matter what country they’re in are identified,” McCabe said.

Between 2013 and 2023, the CPU has achieved several notable results. In 2023, their intervention resulted in 269 arrests and convictions related to crimes against children, an increase from the 242 recorded in the previous year.

Additionally, according to a CPU report, the unit played a pivotal role in conviction rates for cases involving children. In 2018, these rates saw a six-fold increase, reaching an 86 per cent success rate.

During this decade, the unit conducted investigations into over 300 juvenile homicides and initiated 118 inquiries into online threats, including grooming and the distribution of child pornography.

Their efforts resulted in 1,998 arrests, culminating in prison sentences totalling 5,896 years, including 20 life terms.

In addition, the unit has offered support to over 10,500 family members and provided free legal representation to more than 1,100 survivors. This underscores their unwavering commitment to both justice and the well-being of survivors and their families.

The CPU stated that as investigations continue to uncover the full extent of the crime in Phnom Penh, they remain steadfast in their mission to protect children and pursue justice for survivors.