Combating Child Sex Offences
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Project Childhood staff honoured for supporting the fight against child sex offences

Phnom Penh (Cambodia), 20 March 2014
- Two UNODC staff working for Project Childhood (Protection Pillar), Ms. Margaret Akullo and Ms. Kanha Chan, received the Royal Order of Sahametrei medal for work related to combating child sex offences in Cambodia. The award is presented to persons for their distinguished services to the King and to the people of Cambodia.

Sexual exploitation of children is a serious violation of children's rights and an intensely complex issue. In Southeast Asia, child sexual exploitation has been closely linked to the ever-growing regional and international tourism industry. Efforts are being made to protect children through legislative reform, technical capacity building of investigators and prosecutors, and enhanced cross-border cooperation.

"With the development of a training curriculum targeted to frontline officials and specialist investigators, UNODC is well positioned, through its new Regional Programme for Southeast Asia and Pacific 2014-17, to continue providing support to Member States in the area of combating child sexual exploitation in travel and tourism," said Ms. Margaret Akullo, UNODC Project Coordinator for Project Childhood (Protection Pillar).

H.E. Commissioner General Neth Savoeun of the Cambodia National Police expressed his appreciation to UNODC for the cooperation with the Cambodian National Police in the area of addressing gender issues in the workplace, combating human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. "I encourage the Cambodia National Police to continue with this positive cooperation with UNODC," said H.E. Commissioner General Neth Savoeun.

At the awards presentation, Lt. Gen. Youk Sokha, Deputy Commissioner General of the Cambodia National Police and Chair of the Gender Working Group, commended the training provided by UNODC to 15 trainers of the Gender Working Group of the Cambodian National Police. The UNODC one-day training programme - Gender issues in Cases of Child Sexual Exploitation - forms part of the Cambodia National Police Gender Curriculum and is now being delivered in all 24 provinces of Cambodia.

"UNODC has provided technical capacity support to the Anti-human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Department, the Administrative Police Post Affairs Department and the recently established Port of Intelligence Unit (PIU)," said Lt. Gen Youk Sokha. "As government officers, we would like to show our deepest appreciation for your contribution to Cambodia's development by presenting you with this award."

At the awards ceremony, UNODC handed over office and investigative equipment to the Cambodia National Police.

"The equipment will help improve Cambodian authorities' technical ability to more effectively detect and respond to child sexual exploitation crimes and, ultimately, better protect children at risk of abuse and exploitation by sex offenders," said Ms. Akullo.

The handover was part of Project Childhood, a AUD$ 7.5 million Australian government initiative, which builds on Australia's long-term support for programs that better protect children and prevent their abuse. Project Childhood - under the Protection Pillar and the Prevention Pillar - is implemented by UNODC, INTERPOL and World Vision to combat the sexual exploitation of children mainly in travel and tourism sectors in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

For Project Childhood (Protection Pillar), Ms. Akullo coordinates activities related to technical assistance to law enforcement officers in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam, with a specific focus on child sex offenders. Ms. Akullo has 25 years experience supporting law enforcement officials in combating crimes against children.

Ms. Chan, National Project Officer for Cambodia, takes the lead role in implementing activities under the framework of Project Childhood (Protection Pillar) in Cambodia. She has nearly 20 years work experience in addressing human trafficking and sexual exploitation of children issues.

The two awards were presented by H.E. Commissioner General Neth Savoeun at a ceremony held at the Headquarters of the Cambodia National Police in celebration of International Women's Day. "I encourage all departments and units under the General Commissariat to nominate women for leadership positions. Women have an important role to play in the police and society as a whole," said H.E. Commissioner General Neth Savoeun. At the awards ceremony, attended by 147 police officers, the Police Commissioner General also handed over appreciation certificates and gifts to female police officers for their contribution to law and order in Cambodia.

Under it's newly launched Regional Programme for Southeast Asia and The Pacific 2014-2017, UNODC works with Member States to strengthen legislative and policy frameworks; enhance staff knowledge and skills; enhance bilateral, regional and international cooperation mechanisms; and enhance information exchange mechanisms and networks. To achieve the Regional Programme objectives, UNODC closely partners with police, justice officials, and other stakeholders in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam to enhance law enforcement capacity to identify, arrest, and prosecute child-sex offenders in the Mekong region.

Click here to read more on UNODC's Regional Programme on Criminal Justice.

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