Cambodia Launches Strategic and Operational Plan for Implementation of Juvenile Justice Law

AKP Phnom Penh, December 25, 2018 —

Cambodia’s Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation launched here last week the Strategic and Operational Plan for the implementation of the Juvenile Justice Law.

According to a joint press release, this Strategic and Operational Plan will operate with the support from UNICEF to guide the implementation of the Juvenile Justice Law, which entered into effect in 2017.

“Another key point in this plan is the focus on the education to understand the advantages of the implementation of diversion and other alternatives to detention that can contribute to the reduction of re-offences and to the reduction of children in detention. It also contributes to the reduction of expense of the Government in the detention facilities,” pointed out Samdech Kralahom Sar Kheng, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, at the launching ceremony.

The Juvenile Justice Law was introduced in 2017 to reform the juvenile justice system of Cambodia. It focuses on diversion as the proper response to alleged youth criminality rather than punishment, the current approach in a country that lacks a system tailored to the needs of children.

For his part, H.E. Vong Sauth, Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, highlighted that the purpose of the Strategic and Operational Plan is to improve the lives of children in conflict with the law by focusing on two objectives: to build a sustainable juvenile justice system, and to provide effective protection and support to children in conflict with the law.

Approximately 23 in every 100,000 Cambodian children are incarcerated. The number of children in Cambodia’s prisons increased from 336 in 2014 to 1,535 in 2018 indicating that more efforts are urgently needed so that children in conflict with the law are diverted away from the criminal justice system towards more child friendly mechanisms such as diversion.

“While the Juvenile Justice Law is a significant milestone in the juvenile justice reform, the concept is new to Cambodia, which may have contributed to the slow implementation of this law. The Strategic and Operation Plan provides a roadmap for Cambodia to implement this law and build a modern juvenile justice system in accordance with the international standards and practices,” said Ms. Natascha Paddison, Acting UNICEF Representative to Cambodia.

To achieve the two over-arching objectives highlighted by H.E. Vong Sauth, the Juvenile Justice Law Strategic and Operational Plan indicates nine strategic programme areas including coordination, management and communication; education and training; social agents; diversion; reintegration; detention; crime prevention; operating system and policy framework; monitoring and evaluation.

By Khan Sophirom