CCF’s Child Protection Unit (CPU) has investigated more than 200 cases of child murder and suspicious deaths since it was formed in 2013.
Reaching the 200th case was a “number filled with sadness and mixed emotions” said Jim McCabe, CPU’s Executive Director.
But these cases also mark great strides in bringing those who commit crimes against children to account and finding a voice for the victims.
The CPU works with the Cambodian National Police (CNP) to investigate the most serious cases of child abuse in Cambodia, protecting vulnerable children and bringing child abusers to justice.
Crimes against children cover homicide, sexual assault, child trafficking and all forms of abuse, including neglect and physical assault.
In 2020, the CPU investigated 316 major crime investigations, 24 of which were murder and 201 rape incidents.
These are cases often beyond the resources of local police departments.
276 arrests were made of offenders who committed offences against children, with an impressive arrest rate of 83 per cent. These resulted in a total of 245 years imprisonment being handed out by the courts to offenders.
The CPU Homicide Investigation team began in 2013 as a three-man unit, the first dedicated child homicide team in the country.
This has now grown to a group of 10 highly skilled and committed professionals, more than half of which are Khmer staff, including forensic experts, investigators and family welfare officers.
In March, the unit marked its 200 child homicide case.
“200 It's not a number worth celebrating, in fact it is a number filled with sadness and mixed emotions,” said Jim McCabe.
“It’s a milestone that was inevitable no matter how hard we try.”
Every child homicide is remembered and never forgotten but some will leave a permanent scar on your heart that is the nature of the work we do
He paid tribute to the CPU’s small dedicated team which has been on standby around the clock for the last eight years to investigate these cases.
“It is my privilege and honor to command such a loyal and committed crew,” he said.
“I tip my hat to an amazing crew of men and women who have seen and witnessed the horrors of crime more than most investigators would see in two lifetimes, and for your commitment, dedication and strength to do what we do, a job that few people can.
“Every child homicide is remembered and never forgotten but some will leave a permanent scar on your heart that is the nature of the work we do. None of us are unscathed and we can recall vividly the cases that have affected us the most.”
The 200th case on 14 March, 2021, involved a 14-month-old boy who was attacked and killed with a long bladed weapon as he played outside his grandmother’s house in Kampong Speu province.
A man was later arrested and charged for the brutal and senseless assault.
The Child Protection Unit working in conjunction with the Cambodian National Police and local police makes for a formidable force against those who would abuse children
The work of James and the Child Protection Unit over the years has changed the landscape in Cambodia. Any sense of impunity among those who would abuse children has vanished,” said Scott Neeson, CCF’s Founder and Executive Director.
“There is nothing more insidious within any society than the abuse of children. The professionalism and persistence of the Child Protection Unit working in conjunction with the Cambodian National Police and local police makes for a formidable force against those who would abuse children"
Since the 200th milestone in March, the CPU has been called to assist the Cambodian National Police with another four high profile cases, including the kidnap and murder of a 10 year old boy and the rape and attempted murder of a 14 year old girl.
The most recent case on 9 May saw the CPU team work on the murder of a mother and her four children in a house fire in Kampong Chhang province.