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Child-friendly policing supports children in contact with the law

Plan International and partners have worked alongside the Cambodian government and authorities to develop policing guidelines that ensure children’s best needs are considered in the prosecution and punishment of young offenders.

Police officials and the Country Director of Plan International Cambodia attend a workshop to share the new guidelines
Police officials and the Country Director of Plan International Cambodia attend a workshop to share the new guidelines.

In Cambodia, children living through hardships sometimes break the law to get by although they may not realise they have committed an offense.

To address this, Plan International Cambodia and the Child Rights Coalition Cambodia and the Police Academy of Cambodia have launched a manual on child-friendly police practices.

“The prime purpose for the compilation of this manual is to practice and up-scale child-friendly approaches among police officials as well as law enforcement officers at all levels when dealing with all children in contact with the law,” said Jan Jaap Kleinrensink, Country Director of Plan International Cambodia.

In the best interests of children

If properly implemented, legal and correctional actions should be in the best interests of the children and stop them from reoffending so they become productive members of society.

However, if these interventions are not carried out with the best interests of the children in mind, they act as a barrier that prevents children from reaching their potential.

“With more than 15 years working in Cambodia, we have seen that the government, authorities and development organisations including Plan International have been working to provide assistance to children in contact with the law,” said Mr Kleinrensink.

“We had a landmark outcome with the adoption of the Juvenile Justice Law in mid-2016, which is the foundation of the manual we have just developed.”

Comprehensively applied guidelines

According to Child Protection Specialist Sovannary Ty, this manual was developed to be easily applied by police officials and law enforcers and is expected to be comprehensively applied and integrated into the curriculum of the national Police Academy.

The manual was made possible through a project on reducing child poverty through the promotion of child participation as active citizens with funding assistance from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and Plan International Sweden. 

As a child-centred development organisation, Plan International Cambodia considers child protection, including children in contact with the law, as indispensable to advancing their rights and equality for girls.