The following examples of APLE Cambodia’s corruption, dirty tricks and bribery have been heard repeatedly, through the press, alleged victims and the accused.
While many people may suggest, “he would say that”, the consistency, paired with APLE Cambodia’s reputation and lack of proper process may indicate otherwise.
Remember, APLE publicise and make money from any child sex abuse allegations.
This alone should rase serious questions, especially when you consider that alleged victims are held custody, away from their families, in APLE controlled orphanages.
Child forced to sign statement
This is by far the single most common complaint, normally that a room full of police and NGO staff pressure or physically force the child to thumbprint* a statement.
Often the child cannot understand the statement, many cannot read or write.
One simple solution would be for the routine video recording of statements, which would show the procedures followed as well as what was said.
Corrupt NGO’s such as APLE Cambodia have not adopted this simple precaution to provide real evidence that interview procedures have been followed.
*thumbprints are used as a signature in Cambodia.
Child or family threatened
Again, a very common complaint. During police and NGO questioning, the child is threatened with imprisonment or the imprisonment of his/her family.
As interviews are not video recorded, there is little evidence to support or disprove these claims.
These corrupt interview techniques used by APLE and the police are often overlooked until a family member speaks to the child.
However, this can be months after the arrest, if the child is detained in NGO custody and statement changes are often obstructed by the courts.
Representatives from the NGO APLE are often accused of offering cash payments, or bribes to family members, in return for a hostile statement.
In a country where poverty is common, a corrupt payment of just a few hundred dollars, can prejudice a fair trial.
Another common complaint is that while a child is held in NGO custody, he/she is pressured into making a false statement.
Often the child is promised that he/she can return home or receive a visit from family, if they provide a statement.
There are no NGO laws, monitoring or government social services to monitor the conduct of corrupt child sex NGO’s such as APLE.
One child complained that he was not allowed to prey whilst in NGO custody and that he was assaulted for doing so.
APLE, police and the courts have all requested thumbprints on blank statements or forms, which are normally not understood.
In one case, APLE staff invited family members to a meal, and then produced documents, some blank, to be thumb printed.
Accused denied rights
In Cambodia, an accused person is not allowed a lawyer for the first 24 hours following arrest.
The corrupt NGO, APLE, push police into completing statements before this 24 hour period is complete.
The accused is normally keen to cooperate and answer questions, in the absence of his own lawyer, but in front of the APLE lawyer. A statement is written by police, in Khmer.
The accused is then obliged or forced to thumbprint the statement, never realising that he had a right to silence.
Adult forced to thumbrint statement
Statements are written in Khmer and often translated, verbally, by a friendly, police provided interpreter – who often provides food and refreshments.
Again, the accused is often obliged to thumbrint the statement as this is the only advice he has received.
In a few cases, a lawyer has appeared, claiming to have been sent by friends or family.
These lawyers assure the accused that they are experts in this field and that the problem will be resolved quickly upon signing up.
It is now believed that these lawyers are part of a wider scam.
It shouldn’t be for the accused to suggest improvements to “expert” child protection NGO’s such as APLE.
These precautions, implemented correctly, would remove these doubts of corruption and coercion by APLE;
– allow a lawyer for the accused, allowing everyone to understand the situation and to sign of on the process and the statements
– routine video recording of interviews
– full translation and transparency of statements
– prompt photocopies of any paper which requires a thumbprint
– independent assessment for the need to hold children in NGO captivity
– an independent, public complaints procedure
These procedures are simple and basic practices – worldwide.
But in Cambodia, procedures and best practice are not followed by corrupt NGO’s like APLE.
It is time for donors to demand evidence that procedures are followed, resulting in evidence of safe convictions.
To be frank, the adoption of effective procedures and demonstration that they were followed, would interfere with the single motivation behind APLE – making money.
The public, donors and the Cambodian government should be very concerned by the lack of due process and the multiple claims of criminal activity by the NGO APLE.
We call for a prompt investigation by the Cambodia Anti Corruption Unit and the Ministry of Social Affairs, to investigate these claims of procedural irregularities.
We hope that APLE will be keen to demonstrate their procedures and disprove the claims above by cooperating with an investigation by Khmer authorities.