Child in Conflict with the Law
Social Services in Prison
Children’s day in Prison
PROVIDING LEGAL ASSISTANCE:
Providing legal assistance here means providing free legal services before, during and after trial to both child victims and child offenders in Cambodia. PJJ has been providing these services through all stages of the legal process to child victims and child offenders to all of the provinces throughout the country. PJJ is committed to providing such assistance and other forms of support to children in all the provinces in Cambodia when funding becomes available. PJJ has worked to ensure that child offenders and child victims of abuse, neglect and sexual exploitation in Cambodia be guaranteed legal assistance in order to resolve their situation at all stages throughout the legal process. It has been providing these target children with legal counseling and representation according to the fundamental concepts of the Convention on the Rights of the child.
CHILD OFFENDERS IN THE COUNTRY’S JUSTICE SYSTEM
Poverty, lack of education, drugs and pornographic films have pushed many children to commit crimes, which are often not committed of their own will but rather are ordered by adults who have control over them. Children in conflict with the law are often taken for granted and treated as adults when they come into the justice system.
Like children falling victim to abuse, children committing crimes pose a serious, frightening problem in Cambodia. Some children are detained in police custody without clear incriminating evidence. Additionally, the children are often beaten and abused while in police custody or during the time they are incarcerated. Children are not only detained in adult prison, but also, in many cases, are illegally detained for a pre-trial period without investigative hearings and wait a long time for trial.
CHILD VICTIMS IN THE COUNTRY’S JUSTICE SYSTEM
Child victims face all sorts of abuses such as rape, trafficking, and economic and sexual exploitation, both inside and outside of Cambodia. The age range of victimized children is frighteningly very young--even as young as one year and below. The family of a child victim, especially in a case of rape, usually has pressure from the perpetrators. They simply have little or no confidence in the court, and always resort to extra-judicial settlement and compensation. That poses an enormous challenge for the authorities and the justice system in the country.
THE PRISON FACILITIES
Prison in the Cambodian justice system serves merely as a place to lock away criminals. In almost all provinces in the country, children are placed together with adult prisoners. In a very few provincial prisons child prisoners are detained in a separate, yet very crowded room. Worse still, they have to defecate and urinate in the same place where they live and eat, which is detrimental to their health. Child prisoners are rationed with two meals per day, each having scanty meat and rice. They can hardly survive with this ration and always have to ask for additional food provisions from their family.
THE LAW ENFORCEMENT:
In general, Cambodian law enforcers working on child-related issues do not have adequate knowledge or a good understanding of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, child-related rights and regulations, and other Cambodian laws. The capabilities of the law enforcement officers, including police, military police, prison officials, court officials, village chiefs, teachers and social workers, need to be improved in order for them to know how to investigate children’s cases and initiate court proceedings. The police appear to have no clear instructions and not to be aware of the existing legislation and procedures. It was found that many police at operational level, especially in district and commune posts, do not know the relevant laws.
IT’S TIME TO CHANGE OUR THOUGHTS AND ATTITUDES TOWARD CHILDREN IN CONFLICT WITH THE LAW
Like children who fall victim to abuse, children who commit crimes also pose a serious problem in Cambodia. While child victims must face abuses such as rape, trafficking, and economic and sexual exploitation, both inside and outside Cambodia, child offenders are also often mistreated by the country’s law enforcement system.
Furthermore, while attention is generally paid to child victims, Cambodia’s justice system does not do enough to rehabilitate child offenders. These troubled children desperately need help, especially in this critical period of their troubled lives.
SENDING POOR CHILDREN TO SCHOOL:
Poverty and lack of education cause most of Cambodian children to be vulnerable to abuse and sexual trafficking, and they can become offenders as well. If no proper actions to send children to school are in place, the future of these children will not be different from what can be seen right now. Both illiteracy and poverty are two of the main factors contributing to young girls being cheated and turned into prostitutes when they are desperate for jobs. Meanwhile, boys intending to make money so as to support his family will not be able to avoid committing offenses because they do not fully understand society and the law as they are gullible and inexperienced. In addition, they are not aware that their acts are illegal because they are obsessed with the job opportunity which they find honorable.
My Future: When I Am Released from Prison
By Pak Raksa, Siem Reap Prison.
I regret that I was born this way,
With my mind perceiving no difference between right and wrong
My parents tried to teach me, but I did not listen
The mistakes I made are crimes and because of these sins,
I am detained and the police arrest me.
I learn how handcuffs feel when pulled against my skin
I should have listened to my parents advice,
Everyday now I live in sadness
I pray to God to help me,
By P Web Design Company