System for Sex Crime Evidence Gets Upgrade

Cambodia’s police are modernizing their system of evidence collection and storage for sex crime cases, in a move to strengthen prosecutions and track offenders.

About 40 officers began a training course on Monday to use new electronic database forms, cameras and computers, donated as part of the Law Enforce­ment Against Sexual Exploitation and trafficking of Children project.

The course aims to improve of­ten unreliable or insufficient po­lice records, which can jeopardize sex crime cases, said Chri­stian Guth, a law enforcement adviser to the Ministry of Interior.

“In the past, when a crime was committed in Kampot [province] and [the criminal] went to Bat­tam­bang [province], he disappeared,” Guth said.

Sex crime prosecutions often rely on testimony, which makes judges hesitant to convict, Guth said. Abundant forensic and oth­er evidence, such as undercover video of pedophiles prowling for victims, could aid prosecutions, he added.

Rene Poirier, who worked to create the forms and database, is now helping police to use the system to archive information about victims, suspects and specific ca­ses. The electronic database system, established under LEASEC, is now running in Phnom Penh. Poirier said he hopes to expand the system elsewhere in the pro­vinces within the next year.

LEASEC is currently training Phnom Penh municipal police and the Interior Ministry’s Hu­man Trafficking and Sexual Ex­ploitation of Children department, as well as police in Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey provinces in preparation for such an expansion.

But, Poirier said, the project may face some resistance.

“We can get a lot of data, but the problem is some people don’t want us to do that,” Poirier said. He said that changes and irregularities can be carefully tracked in the new system, so cases tainted by corruption may be exposed.

Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Interior Ministry, however, said he had heard nothing but support for the new system.

“The ministry wants all information stored in one place to facilitate management,” he said.

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