World Bulletin / News Desk
However, the victim’s own lawyer did not bother to appear because the perpetrator had not been caught. The case was dropped.
Cambodia currently has no separate juvenile justice system, so it’s firsthand stories like this that formed the basis for a wide-ranging study into the way the country’s courts handle cases involving minors, which was released by Unicef Cambodia and a child protection NGO called Hagar in January 2015.
On Tuesday, both organizations announced the launch of a new guidebook that aims to provide lawyers, guardians and other NGOs with the tools to improve the judicial system and mitigate an otherwise “unfamiliar and frightening” process experienced by many children.
The new guide centers around four key points. It provides tips on the best practices for interviewing traumatized children and training tools in order to understand the impact of trauma on minors.
The guide recommends a court preparation program, which the experts said “can help to transform the court experience into a step in the child's recovery”.
There are also child-friendly tools, such as animations, that aim to help minors and those who care for them with information on what to expect in court.
Lastly, it recommends that lawyers adhere to a checklist “on steps that may be taken to ensure that children are protected in each stage of the justice process to the full extent of the law.”
In a statement sent out Tuesday, Deborah Papworth, the coordinator of Hagar’s Children in Legal Processes Project, said the guide has the protection of children’s rights and dignity at its core.
“Child victims and witnesses are often the most vulnerable group in any justice system,” Papworth said. “ Unfortunately in Cambodia, as we found in Unicef and Hagar's recent study on the experiences of child victims and witnesses in the criminal justice system, such children are often left unsupported and re-traumatized by the legal process.”
Ministry of Justice spokesmen Chin Malin and Kim Santepheap could not be reached for comment Tuesday.