Orphan Case Continues in Municipal Court Today

Proceedings to decide the guardianship of 12 children taken from the Asian Orphans Associa­tion last month under suspicion they might be victims of child trafficking will resume today in a Phnom Penh courtroom.

The human rights group Lica­dho have filed for temporary legal guardianship of the children in Phnom Penh Municipal Court, and officials there say they are competing against both the Ministry of Social Affairs and the adoption agency itself.

But city prosecutor Sok Roeun said Sunday there are only two requests for legal guardianship before the court: One from Licadho and the other from AOA, which Sok Roeun said has the backing of the Ministry of Social Affairs.

Police and human rights workers seized the children in a Sept 3 raid on a Tuol Kok district clinic, after a woman said that she could not get her two children back from people who were working at the clinic.

But when police and human rights workers stormed the facility, they found not two, but 12, children. District police arrested four adults working at the facility, and the children, 10 of them infants, were placed under the care of human rights groups.

Sok Roeun released the four adults the same day without charging them after officials at the Asian Orphans Association came forward with what they claimed was documentation for custody of the children.

The children have stayed in the care of Licadho since the raid. Two more women have since come forward to claim infants in the group as their own, and have been able to describe birthmarks on their bodies, Licadho’s acting president Naly Pilorge said.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has said these children should re­main in Licadho’s care until a criminal investigation is completed. A decision on the case could arrive as early as this week, Pilorge said.



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