Orphanage closed after police raid

posted Mar 25, 2013, 1:11 PM by Christina C.
From the Phnom Penh Post, March 25 2013:
Responding to complaints of beatings, poor living conditions and suspected human trafficking, authorities working in collaboration with NGOs shut down the unregistered Love in Action (LIA) orphanage in Phnom Penh on Friday, rescuing 21 children, representatives from NGOs SISHA and Mlup Russey said.

NGO representatives said yesterday that the joint action, combined with the arrest of a Siem Reap orphanage president the same day on sexual abuse allegations, demonstrates the continuing issues plaguing the Kingdom’s often-unregulated childcare industry.
Meanwhile, anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection police said yesterday that the president of the Angkor Orphan & Education Organisation was arrested  Friday and charged by the Siem Reap Provincial Court on Saturday with committing indecent acts on two girls, ages 11 and 12, living in his orphanage.

Duong Thavery, chief of the provincial anti-human trafficking office, said that according to the girls, fundraisers and other witnesses, Mon Savuth, 36, had been sleeping in the same room as the girls and sexually abusing them for four months.

“The suspect took the victims to sleep with him every night. He hugged one girl and he removed her clothes, touching his penis with the victim’s sexual organ,” she said.

The police immediately began investigating the case after receiving reports of abuse from Licadho, she said, adding that Savuth denied the charges.

“These tragic incidents serve to reinforce UNICEF and RGC [Royal Government of Cambodia] policies that family and community-based care are the best options for the care of children,” said Denise Shepherd-Johnson, chief of communication for UNICEF Cambodia, via email yesterday.
“Children are at increased risk of physical and sexual abuse in residential care because there are orphanages using staff and volunteers who have not undergone any background checks... and have no specialised training.”

Making matters worse, the “vast majority” of children in orphanages actually have families, said Quade.

Indeed, Quade said, “from preliminary investigations, it seems the majority of the children [from LIA] have families. It’s unclear if any are actually orphans. We’re working with DoSVY [the Department of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation] to trace their families.”
Read the full article here.