Victims’ Rights a Priority in Police Rescue Guidelines

The Interior Ministry on Tuesday is scheduled to unveil new police guidelines adopted last month on rescue operations for victims of sexual exploitation, officials and NGOs said Thursday.

Officials said the guidelines offered a detailed methodology for conducting rescue operations, broadly divided into three steps–before, during and after the operation–with a focus on protecting the welfare and rights of the victim.

Samleang Seila, director of anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, applauded the attention that the guidelines pay to victim welfare and post-rescue rehabilitation.

“They talk about how to rescue the victim rather than focusing only on the apprehension of the suspect…and then the procedure of getting the victim to aftercare, with social workers working alongside the police to take care of the victim,” he said, adding that it was important that the police explain to rescued victims that they are not criminals to be apprehended.

Specific instructions are also given on how to interview children who have been victims of abuse or exploitation, Mr Seila said.

“There are instructions so that the child is not intimidated, and instead the child should feel comfortable during the interview,” he said. “It is necessary that the victim feel comfortable to be strong in the process and continue participation is the proceedings.”

The guidelines will be officially launched to a wider audience on Tuesday, according to Bith Kimhong, chief of the Ministry of Interior’s anti-trafficking department.

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights said that although any measures to improve victim support were welcome, it was also important to ensure that they were implemented.

“In Cambodia, so far as trafficking and sexual exploitation are concerned, it is a question of application rather than articulation,” said John Coughlan, CCHR’s senior legal consultant. “These guidelines are welcome if they mean real protection for victims and application of the law.”


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