Mar 13th, 2024 03/13/24 | News

Highest Awards For Child Protection Unit

Medals for team in recognition of work over 10 years investigating crimes against children in Cambodia

Some of the country's highest awards have been given to members of the Child Protection Unit (CPU) for their work investigating crimes against children in Cambodia.

5 of the CPU team received medals, including the Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Cambodia (GCC), which has to be personally approved by His Majesty King Norodom Sihamoni and is one of the highest awards granted by the Kingdom.

The awards recognized the unit's work over the last ten years, which included investigating crimes and advancing the care and treatment of child victims.

Set up in 2013, the CPU is a unique collaboration between the Cambodian Children's Fund (CCF) and the Cambodian National Police to investigate all serious crimes against children in Cambodia and Southeast Asia and bring offenders to justice.

Some of the original CPU team members received a Knight Grand Cross: James McCabe, CPU’s Director of Operations, and Mike Smith, who started the CPU almost 11 years ago, along with Som Vathana, now the CPU’s Manager Police, Ministry, and NGO Liaison.

Nick Rose, Deputy Director of the CPU and former Australian federal police and army officer, has been awarded a Knight Grand Officer.

Sy Phalla received the National Medal of Merit.

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CPU team with their medals

Established in 1864, The Royal Order of Cambodia is bestowed by the Cambodian monarch and distinguishes civilians and soldiers, subjects of the King or foreigners, who have made themselves worthy.

CPU medal
The Knight Grand Cross medal
decorative quotation mark

To be recognized by His Majesty for our work is a great honor

— James McCabe, CPU’s Director of Operations

“To be recognized by His Majesty for our work is a great honor,” said James McCabe.

“I want to congratulate Mike, Vathana, Phalla, and Nick for their work and support in protecting children. I want to praise every CPU team member's efforts; their dedication, professionalism, and commitment to assisting victims and investigating crimes against children is awe-inspiring.”

James McCabe was previously awarded the Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Sahametrei in 2016. In 2022, he was made a Knight of the Royal Order of Sahametrei and a Commander of the Royal Order of Sahametrei, approved by the then-Prime Minister Hun Sen.

The CPU has been recognized by numerous foreign governments and international policing agencies for their tireless work. I am honored and humbled to be lead this amazing team,” said James McCabe.

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Members of the CPU at a crime scene

The CPU covers all 25 provinces across Cambodia and now has four major departments: the Homicide Investigation Team (HIT), Forensic Services Team (FST), Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC), and the Office of Victim and Family Services (OVFS).

The unit has experienced police, investigators, forensic experts, and aftercare specialists to tackle major crimes against children in Cambodia, including homicide, sexual assault, and trafficking.

Two years ago, it formed the first specialist unit in Cambodia to tackle the growing threat of cyber crimes against children, from online grooming to the distribution of child pornography. It has since investigated 118 investigations into internet crimes against children.

Since 2013, the CPU has conducted more than 2,617 major crime investigations, including over 300 homicides.

Written by

Kate Ginn

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