Local human rights group Adhoc says it will hire an independent lawyer to pursue the case of two 17-year old girls who claim they were forced to work as prostitutes, despite a court prosecutor’s decision that no case exists against the alleged brothel owner.
“I think the owner of the hotel should be prosecuted. But the prosecutor said the owner has done nothing wrong. I have suggested that he continues his investigation,” said Adhoc’s Lim Mony.
Human rights groups and Chhin Chiva, a Phnom Penh Municipal Court prosecutor, were present for a raid Oct 29 at the Singapore 2 Hotel in downtown Phnom Penh which led to release of two female teen-agers.
Chhin Chiva said Thursday that no legal action would be taken because the hotel owner was not guilty of any crime.
“We cannot arrest a person without evidence. He [the hotel owner] did not force the girls to have sex with customers or torture them as they reported. The girls signed a job contract with him and received $150 in advance,” said Chhin Chiva, noting the girls were employed to give massages only.
“During the raid I did not see any signs of prostitution or torture but a massage saloon and massage is legal in Cambodia,” Chhin Chiva said.
Lim Mony said Tuesday that the raid followed a tip by another 15-year old female sex worker who fled the hotel the previous day. She said that the city court official accepted the hotel owner’s explanation that he had agreements with the two 17-year-olds signed by their guardians agreeing to their work in the hotel.
At a conference last month in Phnom Penh, Adhoc claimed the judicial process was failing to prosecute brothel owners and those who profit from the country’s sex industry. “We have only been 30 percent successful in bringing [brothel owners] to court because bribery and the backing of high-ranking officials means they are released before the hearing,” Chun Sath, Adhoc’s acting secretary general, said.
at the conference.