CAMBODIA: Persistent violations of children's rights

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Summary: The violations highlighted are those issues raised with the State by more than one international mechanism. This is done with the intention of identifying children's rights which have been repeatedly violated, as well as gaps in the issues covered by NGOs in their alternative reports to the various human rights monitoring bodies. These violations are listed in no particular order.

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There is no separate juvenile justice system

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, June 2011)

The Committee is also concerned that there are no children's courts, or specialised judges or prosecutors in children's rights, that children are often sentenced as adults by courts, and generally held in adult prisons

The Committee recommends that the State party bring the system of juvenile justice fully in line with the Convention, in particular articles 37, 39 and 40, and with other relevant standards including the Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (the Beijing Rules), the Guidelines for the Prevention of Juvenile Delinquency (the Riyadh Guidelines), the Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty (the Havana Rules), the Vienna Guidelines for Action on Children in the Criminal Justice System; and the Committee's General Comment No. 10 (2007) on the rights of the child in juvenile justice. In particular, the Committee urges the State party to :

Establish specialised juvenile courts throughout the country;

...

Request further technical assistance in the area of juvenile justice and police training from the Interagency Panel on juvenile Justice, which includes, UNODC, UNICEF, OHCHR, and NGOs (paragraphs 76 and 77)

UN Committee against Torture

Last reported: 9 and 10 November 2010

The Committee welcomes the efforts made by the State party to reform its juvenile justice system, however, the Committee expresses its concern at reports of a high number of children in detention, and that children are not always separated from adults in detention facilities. The State party should, as a matter of urgency, establish a separate juvenile justice system. The State party should enact the draft Law on Juvenile Justice and develop corresponding guidelines and directives for judges, prosecutors and judicial police on the concept of a child-friendly justice system. It should implement a comprehensive system of alternative measures to ensure that deprivation of liberty of juveniles is used only as a measure of last resort, for the shortest possible time and in appropriate conditions. Further, persons below 18 years of age should not be detained with adults. (paragraph 23)

UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia

Country visits: 17-30 January and 8-18 June 2010

Report published: 16 September 2010

The country should provide for special protection for people belonging to special groups, such as a separate juvenile justice system and should have provision for a family court. (paragraph 86)

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Street children are rounded up and detained with no legal basis

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, June 2011)

The Committee expresses deep concern about allegations that children and adolescent addicted to drugs, children with mental disabilities and children in street situations have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment, including widespread beatings, whippings and administration of electric shock in drug rehabilitation and youth centres where some of them had been forcibly placed.

The Committee urges the State party to:

Ensure that children in any form of arbitrary detention, whether in drug treatment and rehabilitation, social rehabilitation or any other type of Government-run centre are released without delay;

Ensure prompt investigation into allegations of ill treatment and torture of children in those centres and that perpetrators are brought to justice; and

Set up an independent child-sensitive mechanism to receive complaints against law enforcement officers and to provide victims with redress as already recommended by the Committee against Torture (CAT/C/KHM/CO/2 para. 20). (paragraphs 38 and 39)

The Committee expresses concern about the lack of specific mechanisms and resources to address the problem of children in street situations and to provide those children with adequate assistance. The Committee is particularly concerned about operations of "cleaning up the streets" conducted by the police, such as the one carried out in early 2008 and during which many children in street situations were sent to two rehabilitation centres (Koh Romduol and Prey Speu) run by the Phnom Penh Department of the Ministry of Social Affairs, illegally confined and subjected to a variety of abuses which in some cases resulted in their death, including by suicide.

The Committee urges the State party to:

Take all the necessary measures to protect children in street situations, ensure that they are provided with recovery and reintegration services and prioritise family and community-based interventions aimed at reuniting these children into their families;

Stop conducting "cleaning up the streets operations" and treating children in street situations as offenders and address their situation in a manner that respects their rights and dignity; and

Launch independent investigations into the detention and abuse of children in Koh Romduol and Prey Speu centres and provide in its next periodic report comprehensive information about the outcome of those investigations. (paragraphs 69 and 70)

UN Committee against Torture

Last reported: 9 and 10 November 2010

The Committee expresses serious concern at continuing reports that street children are held in Social Affairs Centres, against their will and without any legal basis and judicial warrant. (paragraph 20)

UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living

Mr Miloon Kothari

Country visit: 22 August- September 2005

Report publishedL 21 March 2006

Every year in November, during preparations for Cambodia's Water Festival, the Phnom Penh police forcibly pick up the homeless, beggars and street children and send them to the Social Affairs Centre near Wat Pry Speu where they are arbitrarily detained. Such "street cleansing" happens at other significant times of the year. The Council of Ministers adopted a sub-decree in October 2005 creating a national committee for resolving vagrancy. Headed by the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Committee will have the authority to clear around 1,800 vagrants each year from the streets of Phnom Penh. Homeless people, beggars and children will become subject to arbitrary interference with their privacy, family and homes, as well as to arbitrary detention and violations of their freedom of movement. (paragraph 61)

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Inequality in access to education, particularly for those from ethnic minority groups

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, June 2011)

[T]he Committee expresses concern that education is still not compulsory in the State party, that only 1.9% of the GDP is spent on education and that education expenditure has dropped since 2007. The Committee also expresses concern that:

Children with disabilities, children from ethnic minorities and indigenous children remain highly discriminated in their access to education;

Drop-out, absenteeism and repetition rates remain evidently high and are on the increase, girls being more affected than boys

Quality of education, appropriateness of curricula and bringing educational services to remote geographical areas remain[s] a challenge

The Committee recommends that the State party:

Allocate increased resources to the education sector in order to expand, build and reconstruct adequate school facilities throughout the State party, and create a truly inclusive educational system welcoming children with disabilities as well as children from all minorities

Make greater efforts to address drop-out and repetition rates, paying special attention to regions with high minority population such as in the provinces of Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri

Further expand bilingual education for non-Khmer speakers (paragraphs 65 and 66)

UN Human Rights Committee
Concluding Observations adopted: 27 July 1999

The Committee is concerned that prevalent attitudes concerning the subordinate role of women in the family and in society are a substantial obstacle to the equal enjoyment of rights by women, and impede their education and opportunities for employment and full participation in political life. The Committee is also concerned that parents decide upon marriage, that children are forced into marriage, that rape in marriage is not an offence and that the authorities do not provide support to women who complain of domestic violence.

The State party, in conformity with its obligations under the Covenant, should ensure greater access to education by women and girls, equal employment opportunities for women, and the full and equal participation of women in political life. It should also take steps to ensure respect for laws prohibiting marriage without full and free consent, and introduce measures to enable women to seek effective protection of the law in case of domestic violence. (Paragraph 17)

UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Last reported: 18-19 February 2010

Concluding Observations adopted: 4 March 2010

The Committee welcomes the State party's efforts to implement its National Education Programme "Education for All". However, the Committee remains concerned by the discrepancies in access to education, especially in areas such as Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri provinces, which are mostly inhabited by indigenous peoples and minorities. The admission and enrolment rates are below the national level and the repetition and drop out rates are higher than the average national level. The Committee recommends that the State party implement bilingual education programmes in remote areas as a means of improving the learning environment for ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples. (paragraph 20)

UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

Last reported: 19 January 2006

Concluding Observations published: 25 January 2006

The Committee is concerned by the large disparity in school enrolment rates for males and females and the high dropout rates of girls. The Committee urges the State party to place high priority on the reduction of the illiteracy rate of women, in particular those who are from rural areas, belong to ethnic minority groups or who are disabled. It also urges the State party to achieve universal primary education for girls in accordance with article 10 of the Convention, the strategic objectives and actions of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and Millennium Development Goals 2 and 3. It urges the State party to address effectively the obstacles that prevent girls from continuing their education, such as early and forced marriages. (paragraphs 25 and 26)

Universal Periodic Review (December 2009)

85. Make primary education compulsory, and integrate the fight against illiteracy into the "Educational Strategic Plan" of the Government (Turkey) (accepted)

86. Give more emphasis to the education sector to gradually transform to a quality and advanced education system since education is a vital tool for national development (Myanmar) (accepted)

88. Take additional measures to support access to education of minority children to help them to maintain and develop their own traditions and languages (Morocco) (accepted)

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Limited access to justice for women and girl victims of violence

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, June 2011)

The Committee expresses deep concern that domestic violence against women and children, including sexual violence remains an acute problem in the State party. While noting the adoption of the Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Protection of the Victims in October 2005, the Committee is concerned that Prakas enabling commune and village officials to act in order to protect victims of domestic violence have not yet been issued and that there is no child protection system in the State party. The Committee is further concerned that domestic and gender-based violence continues to be socially accepted and widely tolerated by law enforcement authorities.

The Committee urges the State party to take immediate and effective measures

to combat domestic violence and in particular to:

Take all the necessary measures for the full implementation of the Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Protection of the Victims, including the prompt adoption of the Prakas enabling commune and village officials to act to protect victims of domestic violence;

Set up a child protection system with clear responsibilities placed on specific local authorities, including a system for reporting child abuse, dealing with such reports and the development of supportive and other measures to prevent further violence;

Collect reliable data on domestic violence, including sexual abuse of children and undertake studies on root causes and scope of the problem of violence against children;

Coordinate a nationwide awareness raising programmes, including campaigns about the problem of domestic violence, with the view to changing public attitudes and traditions that inhibit victims, particularly women and girls, from reporting; and

Investigate cases of domestic violence through child-sensitive judicial procedures, and ensure that sanctions be applied to perpetrators with due regard given to guaranteeing the rights of the child, including the right to privacy. (paragraphs 49 and 50)

UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Last reported: 11-12 May 2009

Concluding Observations adopted: 20 May 2009

Levels of violence against women and girls remain high, and the Committee is concerned by the existence of attitudes that blame the female victim. (paragraph 20)

UN Committee against Torture

Last reported: 9 and 10 November 2010

The Committee is concerned at reports from non-governmental sources about a growing number of rape reports, including against very young girls and gang rapes. Women and children who are victims of such violence have limited access to justice. The State party should take effective measures to prevent and combat sexual violence and abuse against women and children, including rape. (paragraph 21)

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High numbers of women and children continue to be trafficked from, through and within the country for purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labour and the low number of prosecutions for perpetrators of trafficking

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, June 2011)

The Committee welcomes the numerous measures taken by the State party to combat child trafficking, among them, the establishment of the Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Departments at central and provincial levels and the creation of trafficking police units. The Committee is however concerned that a high number of women and children continue to be trafficked from, through and within the country for purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labour. The Committee also shares the concern expressed in 2009 by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (E/C.12/KHM/CO/1 paragraph 26) about the low number of prosecutions and convictions of traffickers.

The Committee recommends that the State party intensify its efforts to combat sale and trafficking in human beings, especially women and children, for the purpose of sexual exploitation and forced labour, inter alia by prosecuting and convicting offenders, supporting programmes and information campaigns to prevent trafficking, providing mandatory training for law enforcement officials, prosecutors and judges on the anti-trafficking legislation and increasing the provision of medical, psychological and legal support for victims. (paragraphs 73 and 74)

UN Human Rights Committee
Concluding Observations adopted: 27 July 1999

The Committee is seriously concerned at the reports of extensive trafficking of men and women for labour, and of women and children for purposes of sexual exploitation and forced prostitution. It is particularly concerned that the laws which prohibit these abuses are not enforced.

The State party should take positive steps to eradicate these practices, to protect the victims, to prosecute those responsible and to enforce anti-corruption measures in respect of law enforcement officers. (Paragraph 16)

UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Last reported: 11-12 May 2009

Concluding Observations adopted: 20 May 2009

An estimated 400 to 800 Cambodian women and children per month are trafficked to foreign countries for sex. The Committee is particularly concerned about the low number of prosecutions and convictions of traffickers. The State party should intensify its efforts to combat trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labour; by prosecuting and convicting offenders; supporting information campaigns to prevent trafficking; and providing training for law enforcement officials. The State party must also provide medical, psychological and legal support for victims. (paragraph 26)

UN Committee against Torture

Last reported: 9 and 10 November 2010

The Committee welcomes the recent adoption of anti-trafficking legislation as well as other legislative, administrative and police measures to combat trafficking. However, the Committee remains concerned by reports that a high number of women and children continue to be trafficked from, through and within the country for purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labour. The State party should intensify its efforts to prevent and combat trafficking in human beings, especially women and children, including by implementing the anti-trafficking legislation, providing protection for victims and ensuring their access to medical, social, rehabilitative and legal services, including counselling services, as appropriate. (paragraph 22)

UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

Last reported: 19 January 2006

Concluding Observations published: 25 January 2006

The Committee is concerned by the lack of enforcement of legislation, the impunity of traffickers and the absence of accurate data on trafficking. It is further concerned that women and girls who have been trafficked may be punished for violation of migration laws and are thus revictimised. There is a high prevalence of sexual exploitation of women and girls, which leaves them vulnerable to becoming infected with sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. The Committee urges the State party to intensify its efforts to combat the trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and girls, by addressing the root causes. Those who traffic and sexually exploit women and girls should be prosecuted and punished within the full extent of the law. The Committee urges the State party to implement rehabilitation and reintegration measures for girls and women who are victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation. (paragraphs 19 and 20)

Universal Periodic Review (December 2009)

32. (a) Intensify its effort to improve human rights for women and to combat key problems such as human trafficking, sexual violence, domestic violence and exploitation of women and children (Norway); (b) continue to fight discrimination and sexual exploitation of women and girls, especially through enhancing efforts to combat trafficking in persons (Philippines); (c) strengthen and amend when necessary its Second National Plan on Human Trafficking and Sex Trafficking, 2006-2010, as well as the law on anti-trafficking passed in 2008, and ensure their due implementation (Slovakia); (d) fully implement the Second National Plan on Human Trafficking and Sex Trafficking, with particular emphasis on measures to support victims, such as legal, medical and psychological support and provision of shelters (Italy); (e) intensify its efforts to combat trafficking in persons and eliminate violence against persons (Belarus); (f) intensify its fight against trafficking, including by addressing the root causes of the problem such as gender-based poverty (Malaysia); (g) strengthen the role of its police and other enforcement authorities in dealing with trafficking in women and children (Malaysia); (h) deepen its actions in fighting against child prostitution and trafficking of minors (Spain); (i) continue to take the necessary measures for effectively fighting human trafficking and child labour (Germany); (accepted)

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The high number of children engaged in the worst forms of child labour

UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (Concluding Observations, June 2011)

While noting the adoption of the National Plan of Action on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour and the State party's commitment to reduce the number of working children to eight percent by 2015 under its Millennium Development Goals and to end all the worst forms of child labour by 2016, the Committee expresses concern that over 1.5 million of children are economically active in the State party and that around 250,000 children are engaged in the worst forms of child labour. The Committee is also seriously concerned that thousands of children work as domestics, mainly in the capital Phnom Penh, in slavery-like conditions.

The Committee urges the State party to fully enforce child labour laws and to

implement its National Plan of Action on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child

Labour, through, inter alia:

Strengthening its national legislation prohibiting child labour;

Giving priority in this regard to addressing the vulnerable situation of child domestic workers in accordance with international standards;

Increasing the number of labour inspectorates; ensuring the imposition of fines and criminal sanctions to persons making use of illegal child labour;

Organising mandatory training for law enforcement officials, prosecutors and judges; and

Adopting appropriate measures to facilitate recovery and access to educational opportunities for former child workers, in a gender-sensitive manner. (paragraphs 67 and 68)

UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Last reported: 11- 12 May 2009

Concluding Observations adopted: 20 May 2009

The Committee is concerned that despite the State party's efforts, child labour continues to be a serious problem in the country. The law prohibiting child labour has not been enforced, and children are still vulnerable to the worst forms of child labour, including forced or bonded child labour and commercial sexual exploitation. The Committee urges the State party to strengthen its national legislation prohibiting child labour in accordance with international standards; increase the number of labour inspectors; and impose fines and criminal sanctions on persons making use of illegal child labour. The State party must also adopt appropriate measures to facilitate the recovery and access to educational opportunities for former child workers. (paragraph 25)

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Forced and early marriage

UN Human Rights Committee
Concluding Observations adopted:

The Committee is concerned that prevalent attitudes concerning the subordinate role of women in the family and in society are a substantial obstacle to the equal enjoyment of rights by women, and impede their education and opportunities for employment and full participation in political life. The Committee is also concerned that parents decide upon marriage, that children are forced into marriage, that rape in marriage is not an offence and that the authorities do not provide support to women who complain of domestic violence.

The State party, in conformity with its obligations under the Covenant, should ensure greater access to education by women and girls, equal employment opportunities for women, and the full and equal participation of women in political life. It should also take steps to ensure respect for laws prohibiting marriage without full and free consent, and introduce measures to enable women to seek effective protection of the law in case of domestic violence. (Paragraph 17)

UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women

Last reported: 19 January 2006

Concluding Observations published: 25 January 2006

The Committee is concerned by the large disparity in school enrolment rates for males and females and the high dropout rates of girls. The Committee urges the State party to place high priority on the reduction of the illiteracy rate of women, in particular those who are from rural areas, belong to ethnic minority groups or who are disabled. It also urges the State party to achieve universal primary education for girls in accordance with article 10 of the Convention, the strategic objectives and actions of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and Millennium Development Goals 2 and 3. It urges the State party to address effectively the obstacles that prevent girls from continuing their education, such as early and forced marriages. (paragraphs 25 to 26)

Universal Periodic Review (December 2009)

81. Incorporate a legal definition of the child, a minimum age for criminal responsibility and sexual consent, and enforce the law on the minimum age of marriage, as recommended by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and develop and implement national legislation which criminalises and penalises the distribution, sale and display of child pornography (Israel); (accepted)

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Countries

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