Experts of the Committee on the Rights of the Child Praise Cambodia for Policies Protecting Children’s Rights, Ask About Unregistered Births and Laws Banning Surrogacy
The Committee on the Rights of the Child today concluded its consideration of the combined fourth to sixth periodic report of Cambodia, with Committee Experts praising the new policies to protect children’s rights, and raising questions about unregistered births and legislation banning surrogacy.
A Committee Expert welcomed that the Royal Government of Cambodia had adopted many policies, including the action plan on protection and response to violence against children and the action plan on prevention of online child sexual exploitation, and that it had formulated the law on child protection, which was currently in a draft form. Limited resources remained a challenge to implement them. What measures were in place to translate these policies into action, including the required budgetary allocations?
Another Committee Expert said that the registration of birth was free of charge, but some 30 per cent of births went unregistered, which equated into 1.6 million children who did not have a birth certificate. Why were so many births not registered? Was the Government aware of informal fees related to the registration of birth charged by intermediatory agencies and had measures been taken to combat that?
One Committee Expert asked what the Government’s policy was on surrogacy. There had been reports, the Expert said, of surrogate mothers being arrested, as this practice was against Cambodian law. What happened to the children who were born as a result of illegal surrogacy in Cambodia?
Introducing the report, Bun Eng Chou, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Interior, Vice-Chair of the Cambodian National Council for Children, and head of the delegation, said that the Royal Government was highly committed to promoting child protection by continuing to develop and implement appropriate national policies, laws and regulations. The Cambodian National Council for Children would focus on implementing national policies and on adopting a law on child protection, a law on disability, and a social protection law.
On birth registration, Ms. Chou said that the Royal Government had made it easy and free of charge to register births, and there were no restrictions on such registrations. Birth registration was an opportunity to obtain important identity papers, she said, but some parents were not interested in obtaining these papers. The Government was working to digitise the registration process by 2026. Birth registration was provided regardless of nationality, but was not provided for persons without identity documents.
Concerning surrogacy, the delegation said that Cambodia was committed to respecting the rights of the child and it combatted trafficking in persons. This was not a case of adoption but a case of child trafficking by illegal surrogacy activity. Since 2016 - it was a new phenomenon - it was found that children had been trafficked abroad without identification papers. Women had the right to be pregnant but did not have the right to sell the life of their children. These women wanted only money and did not care about the children, trying to traffic them illegally. More and more children were being trafficked, and parents of trafficked children did not report themselves. A draft law was being discussed to ensure that it responded to the risk of child trafficking through surrogacy.
In closing remarks, Mikiko Otani, Committee Chair and Coordinator of the Task Force for Cambodia, said that she was very pleased to have a dialogue in person with the Cambodian delegation. She said that the Committee would produce recommendations that it hoped would help Cambodia to implement the Convention.
In her concluding remarks, Ms. Chou expressed profound thanks to the Committee for the dialogue. The delegation, she said, had demonstrated Cambodia’s achievements in protecting the rights of children, however, there were some areas where improvement was needed. Ms. Chou reiterated Cambodia’s continued commitment to protecting child rights, and looked forward to continuing to work with the Committee towards this goal.
The delegation of Cambodia consisted of representatives from the Cambodian National Council for Children; the Ministry of Interior; the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports; the National Committee for Counter Trafficking; the Office of the Council of Ministers; and the Permanent Mission of Cambodia to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will issue the concluding observations on the report of Cambodia at the end of its ninetieth session on 3 June. Those, and other documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, will be available on the session’s webpage. Summaries of the public meetings of the Committee can be found here, while webcasts of the public meetings can be found here.
The Committee has before it the combined fourth to sixth periodic report of Cambodia (CRC/C/KHM/4-6).
Presentation of Report
BUN ENG CHOU, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Interior, Vice-Chair of the Cambodian National Council for Children, and head of the delegation, said that Cambodian people and the Royal Government knew the importance of human rights. The protection of child rights was the obligation of all stakeholders, including the family, the society and the State. Progress had been made by the Royal Government of Cambodia to leverage human rights, women’s rights and child rights through its ratification of relevant conventions.
In early 2021, COVID-19 broke out, and measures to prevent it spreading were adopted. A national committee for combatting COVID-19 was established to respond promptly to the pandemic. A law on measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other dangerous diseases was adopted to protect people, especially youth and children, as well as to minimise the worst impacts of the pandemic on the social and economic sectors.
For mothers, the Royal Government supported antenatal check-ups, the provision of vitamins, iron supplements and methods of antenatal care, breastfeeding, and infant and child nutrition. As a result, the maternal mortality rate had dropped from 472 per 100,000 live births in 2005 to 170 per 100,000 live births in 2014. Infant and under-five mortality rates had also dropped over the same period. The Royal Government had also made it easy and free of charge to register births, and there were no restrictions on such registrations. The vaccination rate of the population was over 93 per cent, supported by the national immunisation programme.
The Royal Government of Cambodia had made in-depth reforms in the education sector to strengthen both quality and quantity. It had significantly increased the budget for education to around 18 per cent of national expenditure, focusing on upgrading teachers’ qualification, developing school infrastructure, enhancing curricula, and providing scholarships to students at all levels, especially girls and students with disabilities and in disadvantaged areas. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government had provided digital and distance learning programmes both online, on site and on air. In addition, multiple mechanisms were launched to protect students from COVID-19.
The national law on the suppression of human trafficking and sexual exploitation was adopted in 2008, and the national committee for counter trafficking in persons had been established. This Committee worked to eliminate trafficking of women and children. The Government had also launched the national action plan on the reduction of child labour and the elimination of the worst forms of child labour for 2016-2025, aiming to eradicate child labour and forced labour.
The Youth Rehabilitation Centre had been established to provide care and support for 1,356 juveniles in detention. A draft law on child protection had also been prepared.
Cambodia had conducted a survey on violence against children to determine its extent and scope. Based on this survey’s findings, Cambodia had developed an action plan to prevent and respond to violence against children.
A national social protection policy had been endorsed and implemented in June 2020 to promote social welfare and unity and to scale up poverty reduction. This policy introduced a social assistance system to provide protection to people living below and close to the poverty line, and a social security system to provide pension protection to the population who lost jobs, especially during the pandemic, in both the formal and informal economy.
The Government was highly committed to promoting child protection by continuing to develop and implement appropriate national policies, laws and regulations. The Cambodian National Council for Children would focus on implementing national policies and on adopting a law on child protection, a law on disability, and a social protection law. The Council was preparing the draft law on cyber safety for children; establishing a national child rights information system; establishing a national parenting curriculum on child online protection; and strengthening the implementation of child protection policies in education.
Questions by Committee Experts
MIKIKO OTANI, Committee Chair and Coordinator of the Task Force for Cambodia, said that Cambodia was considering new legislation and amendments relevant to children, and this was a good opportunity for Cambodia to integrate some of the Committee’s previous recommendations. Were civil society and children involved in discussing new legislation? What was the current status of the draft law on establishing a national human rights institution? Was it correct that there was no comprehensive child rights law in Cambodia? Could the delegation give examples of court decisions where the Convention was invoked? Was there training for the judiciary on the applicability of the Convention in courts?
Ms. Otani underlined the importance of the allocation of resources to cover all child rights, including to social workers for child protection. She welcomed that the Convention on the Rights of the Child was integrated in the school education system, but what was the outcome of this? Did children and parents and the general public know about the Convention?
Ms. Otani welcomed that the delegation had emphasised the importance of civil society and non-governmental organizations working together with the Government on children’s issues. What had been the impact of the 2015 law, in particular on the activities of civil society organizations, human rights defenders, including child human rights defenders, and on freedom of expression and opinion, including online. Environmental human rights activists were also very active in Cambodia. Was the Government ensuring that cases of violence, harassment and intimidation against human rights defenders, including children, were properly investigated and prosecuted?
What had been the impact of COVID-19 on mental health? Had any special measures been taken to ensure that children had equal access to education online? What had happened to children in institutions and in detention and had any measures been taken to address them in the COVID situation?
Ms. Otani had learned with pleasure from the report that two consultative workshops had been organised and that the Government was studying the
Optional Protocol on the communications procedure with the potential to ratify it? What progress had been made in that regard?
Another Committee Expert said that although the legal age of marriage was 18, Cambodia made exceptions for children who were 16 years old if parents and caregivers provided consent. This exception put children at risk of sexual and gender-based violence. Would the State party consider amending this article to remove this exception and ensure that the minimum legal age of marriage was enforced at 18 years old for both boys and girls?
On non-discrimination, the report and the head of delegation said that the State protected the rights of children without any discrimination. In reality, there were certain persisting problems that needed to be addressed as a priority. For example, issues related to the enjoyment of rights among children in vulnerable situations and discriminatory gender stereotypes as reflected in the code of conduct for women. These were serious concerns for the Committee.
What was Cambodia doing to ensure that the best interests of children remained the primary consideration for all services that impacted children? The Expert recommended that Cambodia develop procedures and criteria to provide guidance to all relevant professionals for determining the best interest of the child. Cambodia needed to monitor strategies and measures to combat discrimination and include an assessment of the results.
The Expert welcomed that the Royal Government of Cambodia had adopted many policies, including the action plan on protection and response to violence against children, the national policy on child protection system, and the action plan on prevention of online child sexual exploitation, and that it had formulated the law on child protection, which was currently in a draft form. Limited resources remained a challenge to implement them. What measures were in place to translate these policies into action, including the required budgetary allocations?
The Committee was deeply concerned about reports of the abuse and ill-treatment, including shackling, of children with disabilities and children in detention. It called on the State party to ensure that allegations of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of children in detention were duly investigated, perpetrators were duly punished, and that child victims received adequate remedies.
The Expert also voiced concern about corporal punishment being legally and socially acceptable and called on Cambodia to repeal all legal provisions which were interpreted as justifications for the use of corporal punishment, explicitly prohibit corporal punishment in all settings, and strengthen awareness-raising programmes for parents and professionals working with and for children on corporal punishment.
Another Committee Expert said that the registration of birth was free of charge, but some 30 per cent of births went unregistered, which equated into 1.6 million children who did not have a birth certificate. Why were so many births not registered? Was the Government aware of informal fees related to the registration of birth charged by intermediatory agencies and had measures been taken to combat that? Had a law been drafted on birth registration of children of foreigners or stateless persons, and had that law been disseminated? What steps had been taken to reduce statelessness among children?
What was the content of legislation on motherhood, particularly surrogate mothers? Were there plans to draft legislation on adoption?
What measures had been taken to guarantee freedom of expression and of association for all children? Children were not allowed to create their own associations. How did the State intend to allow children to participate in and to create associations freely?
Did the law on cybercrime protect children from harmful online material? What measures were being taken to improve the digital skills of parents and children?
Another Committee Expert asked what the Government was doing to support children without parental care who were living with their extended family after their parents migrated. Would financial assistance be provided to such families? The Expert appreciated Cambodia’s efforts to reduce the number of children in residential care, with a 35 per cent decrease in the number of residential care institutional placements. However, over 6,000 children were still in residential care, and 170 of those were below the age of three. What strategies were in place to prevent the placement of babies in such facilities? Was there a plan to increase the number of children in foster care? What were the foster care facilities mentioned in a 2015 law? What was being done to secure quality alternative care?
There were only 17 social workers at the provincial level in five focus provinces. Was there a clear plan, with a budget, for the Government to take over these services?
Cambodia had revised its framework on inter-country adoptions, and had entered into agreements with other States. Was the State also building capacity for domestic adoption? Was the State following up on complaints from families seeking to find their children overseas?
What was the Government’s policy on surrogacy? There had been reports of surrogate mothers being arrested, as this practice was against Cambodian law. What happened to the children who were born as a result of illegal surrogacy in Cambodia?
What had been done to bring the conditions of children under three years in prison with their mothers in line with the Bangkok Rules?
What support was provided to parents when children with disabilities were born, or when a child became disabled? The draft law on the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities had been criticised because it did not follow a human-rights based approach. Was there a possibility for the draft law to be amended? Only 10 per cent of children with severe or moderate disabilities had access to education. What had been done to prepare schools and teaching staff to accommodate children with disabilities?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said that concerning surrogacy, Cambodia was committed to respecting the rights of the child and it combatted trafficking in persons. Surrogacy in Cambodia was not a case of adoption but a case of child trafficking by illegal surrogacy activity. Since 2016 - it was a new phenomenon - it was found that children had been trafficked abroad without identification papers. Women had the right to be pregnant but did not have the right to sell the life of their children. These women wanted only money and did not care about the children, trying to traffic them illegally. More and more children were being trafficked, and parents of trafficked children did not report themselves. A draft law was being discussed to ensure that it responded to the risk of child trafficking through surrogacy.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Education swiftly created a digital education policy. Schools were opened and closed frequently during the pandemic, and so the education system shifted to a hybrid learning system. This system served 3.5 million students. Support was provided by Government sectors, the private sector and international organizations. A television channel had been created to provide distance learning for students who did not have internet access.
The Ministry of Education had promoted digital literacy education for teachers, parents and students to ensure the success of digital education platforms. It had also promoted school-based management, which allowed parents to participate in education and school management. A new centre for digital education had been launched to manage and improve digital education content. The Government aimed to establish a digital classroom in each school.
Cambodia was following up with partner States regarding safeguards for intern-country adoption. It was also preparing legislation regarding domestic adoption, but laws had not been enacted yet.
Cambodia aimed to strengthen the capacity of the juvenile justice system, and was implementing measures toward this aim. A new strategy and action plan for supporting and strengthening social protection for children had been developed. The Government also focused on providing social support for children with disabilities. It offered scholarships for children to access education, and supported vocational training. Child protection was an issue that all relevant ministries needed to be involved in.
Stakeholders were being consulted regarding draft legislation on the national human rights institute. Non-governmental organizations and local authorities would be consulted on this draft law.
The number of registered non-governmental organizations was rising. Foreign-funded non-governmental organizations alleged that the public space was shrinking, but refused to be transparent in their activities. Some even engaged in incitement and trespassing.
Human rights defenders were not targeted in Cambodia. However, some human rights defenders had broken the law, and had been punished by the courts accordingly. It was the duty of all human rights defenders to respect the law. Defendants had the right to due process.
Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert said that there had been a significant gap since the last report, and so updates on key indicators were needed. What measures had been taken to ensure the safety of children on the digital platform for education?
MIKIKO OTANI, Committee Chair and Coordinator of the Task Force on Cambodia, asked whether data collected by the State was disaggregated based on children’s background, social and economic situation, and other factors.
Ms. Otani said that budget allocation was difficult. Was there a system to track budget allocation for all areas of child rights protection, and was such a system linked to data gathering? Was data used to assess the enjoyment of the rights of children?
Could the State party provide an update on anti-corruption measures and training of law enforcement officials on these measures?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said that digital education platforms could become a platform where children could be abused. However, Cambodia had taken several measures to prevent such abuse on its online platform. Directives had been provided to teachers and students on how to avoid and prevent online abuse. Research into online abuse had also been carried out. The community and parents were also being educated on preventing online abuse through workshops and information campaigns.
Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert addressed issues related to health. Malnutrition was a looming threat within Cambodia. What had been the impact of the project to eliminate malnutrition?
What had been done to ensure access to quality health care in rural areas, especially for indigenous peoples? Did pregnant women have access to protective treatment for malaria?
Was the birth mortality rate balanced across the country, or was it higher in rural areas? Was paediatric care provided in all regions? What steps had been taken to prevent children from becoming ill in hospitals?
Was the export of breastmilk a common practice? Had steps been taken to ensure that mothers had access to colostrum? Did companies provide formula milk to mothers free of charge in hospitals?
Many young people reported mental health problems during the COVID-19 pandemic. Was a project to support young people with mental health issues properly funded? Were persons trained in providing psychiatric care for children in hospitals? Were there programmes for supporting autistic children and children with other mental health issues? What support was provided to impoverished groups in accessing mental health care?
Did the pagoda system still exist, and were the rehabilitation centres of this system still operating?
What steps had been taken to tackle HIV-AIDS? What happened to AIDS orphans? How were they taken care of?
What steps had been taken to care for children who had been affected by droughts, flooding and other environmental disasters? What was being done to ensure that children and schools had access to safe drinking water?
What steps were being taken to tackle inequality? There were four key social welfare funds, but these funds did not protect minorities who were most in need. These programmes only covered six to nine per cent of the population.
MIKIKO OTANI, Committee Chair and Coordinator of the Task Force on Cambodia, said that basic education was guaranteed under the Constitution, but was not yet compulsory. Why was this? The Convention was clear that primary education should be compulsory for all. What was being done to make primary education compulsory?
Were there hidden costs related to education, such as for uniforms and extracurricular activities? Was vocational training accessible for children who had dropped out of school? How was climate change integrated in the school curriculum? What measures were in place to prevent and identify bullying in school? Were extracurricular activities available for all children?
What was the situation of minority and indigenous children regarding birth registration, access to housing, education and health care?
What efforts was the Government making to prevent child labour? Did it plan to increase resources for labour inspections, prosecute and increase sanctions for child labour, and ratify the International Labour Organization Domestic Workers Convention?
What efforts was the Government making to protect homeless children? Was family reunification being promoted? What measures were being taken to provide support for these children’s education and psychological care?
What was the status of the plan to implement the juvenile justice law? Were there any plans to implement a juvenile court or specialised judges for children? Did the State plan to work with international organizations to establish a specialised justice system for children? Was there a mechanism to provide free legal aid for children?
Were detained children completely separated from adults? Were there efforts to reintegrate these children in society?
There was a gap between Cambodia’s law on sale of children and the provisions of the Optional Protocol on the sale of children. Were there plans to update this legislation and combat the offences covered by the Optional Protocol?
What support was available to child victims of armed conflict?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said that sanitation in schools was one of the Government’s priorities. Through the “Wash” programme supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund, the number of schools without safe drinking water had been reduced to 17 per cent in 2021. Sanitation supplies had been distributed to all schools in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The rate of enrolment for females in primary school had fallen from above 95 per cent to 94 per cent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The State promoted lifelong learning for all. Education was free up to secondary school. Cambodia was not in a position to punish parents for not sending children to school, but was working to encourage them to do so through the school management programme. This programme ensured that schools were autonomous and accountable. The Ministry of Education was working to amend legislation to make primary education compulsory.
Birth registration was an opportunity to obtain important identity papers, but some parents were not interested in having these papers. The Government was working to digitise the registration process by 2026. Birth registration was provided for all, regardless of nationality, but was not provided for persons without identity documents. The birth registration law applied for all regions. From 2017, fees had not been charged for birth registration and civil registration. Children born overseas to parents without identity papers became stateless, and this was a problem that the Government needed to tackle.
The Government supported alternative care programmes. A family strengthening programme was being operated at the municipal level. There were 92 children whose mothers were in prison, and the Government did not separate these children from their mothers. The Government provided support to such children, including clothing and health care. Prisons were starting to develop child-friendly spaces within the premises.
A new draft of the child protection law included provisions that penalised the sale of child pornography and sexual abuse of children, and brought definitions in line with the Luxembourg Guidelines. The Government was working to prevent such abuse.
There were no hidden fees in Cambodian public schools. Any costs related to uniforms, transport and extra-curricular activities were borne by the Government. This ensured public schools’ accountability, autonomy and accessibility. Cambodia had made great efforts to reduce the school dropout rate. It had implemented a project establishing community kindergartens. Short-term vocational training had been provided to youth in a number of fields. Basic education equivalency programmes were conducted online. The national youth debate programme contributed to education reform. It encouraged children to research education topics and develop positions on school curricula. There were 25 provinces implementing informal education programmes and vocational training programmes at lifelong learning centres. People of all ages could participate in these programmes. The Government had developed a manual for establishing and running these lifelong learning centres.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many migrant workers had returned to Cambodia. Many children had been left behind by migrant workers, and those that did return struggled to assimilate due to language barriers. Bilingual language classes had thus been established in certain primary schools. The Government was also collaborating with neighbouring countries such as Thailand to support the education of the children of Cambodian migrant workers in these countries.
The national committee to counter trafficking in persons was collaborating with the United Nations Children’s Fund to provide mental health support for victims. Combatting drug use was also a challenge, and the Government was strengthening health care support and preventative programmes in response.
The Government supported inclusive education and had established a special education institution. The Ministry of Education had developed tools to support children with autism and other disabilities. There were a small number of special education teachers and the Government was working on capacity building and providing training for these teachers. A legal mechanism to address special education had been enacted. The Government was working on expanding special education schools, and non-governmental organizations were offering support to students with special needs. A private school for students with disabilities was also operating in Phnom Penh.
Ministry of Health data indicated that the prevalence of HIV infection had dropped to 0.5 per cent of the population in 2020. There were 100,000 new cases of HIV infection. A programme had been established to reduce infection rates among sex workers and homosexual persons.
The Government worked with non-governmental organizations to support street children, providing them with housing and food support. Reunion with families was encouraged.
Victims of rape were provided with health care and assistance with reintegration into society. Shelters were provided to victims if required. Support for taking legal action against perpetrators was also provided.
The Government had allocated more budgetary resources to promoting children’s rights. Social workers were allowed to be present during police interviews with children, and police officers had been provided with training on children’s rights.
The non-formal education equivalency programme had been established to assess students who had participated in non-formal education. With the support of development partners, climate change had been implemented into public school science curricula.
The Muslim community accounted for five per cent of the population, and they had been well integrated. They were allowed to wear religious attire in public buildings and in all spaces.
Several digital platforms had been introduced to promote child rights. A digital campaign had been launched to raise awareness on the dark side of digital platforms. To protect children from all forms of violence, a hotline for reporting online abuse and receiving counselling had been established. In July 2021, an action plan on preventing online child sexual exploitation had been launched. The United Nations Children’s Fund had commended Cambodia’s efforts to protect children online.
Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert asked what the State was doing to target informal costs that stood in the way of birth registration.
Had a national plan of action on increasing access to safe water been finalised?
How did the State care for the 100,000 new HIV cases? How did it prevent transmission? There was reportedly a high rate of self-medication. How did the State oversee traditional doctors? Did young people have access to family planning and contraception?
What was the progress on the law on adoption? People were still being arrested for surrogacy. What was being done to address this practice?
Another Committee Expert asked whether any technology had been implemented to assist children with disabilities to access education.
One Committee Expert asked whether the “special schools” mentioned were for training teachers of children with disabilities, or for children with disabilities? The latter case would indicate segregation of children with disabilities, which was to be discouraged.
A Committee Expert asked what proportion of children went to private schools. Were private schools managed according to Cambodian law, and were there rules on the costs they could charge? Did these schools receive funding from the State?
What happened to children who dropped out of education after six years?
Children under 14 were being held in detention centres. How did the Government ensure that children under 14 were not detained? How many children were detained in Cambodia, and where were they detained? Was the national preventive mechanism empowered to visit places where children were detained? Had the State compared its legislation on juvenile detention with general comment 24? How child-friendly was the justice system? Were there specialised lawyers and judges who had been trained to deal with children?
A Committee Expert asked what the status of the draft law on child protection was.
With tourism increasing, sex tourism was becoming a bigger problem. What measures did the Government have to prevent sex tourism and exploitation of children?
What was the status of laws preventing child marriage? Would the State party be willing to develop an action plan on child marriage?
MIKIKO OTANI, Committee Chair and Coordinator of the Task Force for Cambodia, noted that Cambodia was not ready to punish parents who did not send their children to school, but said that “compulsory education” did not require punishment for non-conformance. Ms. Otani called on the State to make primary education compulsory, without implementing punishment.
If children dropped out of school, they should be supported to return to school. What efforts were being taken in this regard? How many students had access to technical training?
Ms. Otani was pleased that Cambodia was trying to align its definition of child pornography, sexual abuse and exploitation with the Luxembourg Guidelines.
Were there specialised courts and judges for hearing juvenile cases? Were there plans to establish such courts in collaboration with international organizations?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said that climate change was incorporated into the primary curriculum, and environmental education was provided for primary teachers. Documents had also been developed in Khmer language so that high school teachers could provide tuition on climate change. In higher education, research projects related to climate issues and green technologies were supported.
Multilingual education was implemented for indigenous children, and nine indigenous languages were addressed in the curriculum. Educational videos had also been produced in three indigenous languages during the pandemic. A mobile preschool programme had been developed, and primary school teacher numbers had been increased in this academic year. A policy on the management of multilingual education had been developed. Equipment had been provided to mountainous areas to ensure that children in those areas could access education.
A national special education institute had been developed to train teachers in providing special education. Integrated schools were also in place, where students with disabilities studied in integrated classrooms.
The rights of workers were guaranteed by the labour inspection system. Announced and unannounced inspections had been conducted in formal and informal sectors. Inspections aimed to improve work conditions. A number of campaigns on child labour had been conducted, and workshops on child labour had been held. To prevent child labour, Cambodia promoted online learning.
A draft law on the protection of persons with disabilities promoted the welfare and rights of people with disabilities, and promoted equal opportunity regarding work. Consultations regarding the law were being held. It had recently been submitted to the Council of Ministers, and would be passed to the National Assembly later this year.
The draft child protection law had been supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund. The Government had worked to bring this law in line with the Convention. Child advocate networks, which included non-governmental organizations and relevant stakeholders, had contributed to drafting the law. The law would be submitted to the Council of Ministers soon. The law included provisions on domestic adoption.
Juvenile justice law was enforced, although the action plan on juvenile justice had concluded. The delegation supported the creation of a juvenile justice court. Courts currently followed child-friendly procedures, and specialised judges and prosecutors should be appointed for juveniles. The State would work step by step to train specialised judges and create juvenile courts.
The current draft law for disabilities was in line with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The law established a social support system for persons with disabilities, and prohibited discrimination against them.
Private schools used textbooks developed and approved by the Government. Private schools also offered language training in addition to the State-approved curriculum. There were over 300 private preschools, which 41,000 children attended. There were 655 private primary schools with over 130,000 students, and 323 secondary schools.
The delegation agreed that primary education should be made compulsory, and would study laws used in other States. The Government was also conducting interventions to support students to continue into higher education; conducting regular assessment to ensure that schools were aware of students’ level; encouraging self-study and participation in extra-curricular activities; and strengthening teacher education.
Cambodia did not prohibit homosexual activities or sanction lesbian, gay, transgender and intersex persons. Students had been receiving education on sexual identity to prevent discrimination in schools.
In 2021, the number of malaria cases had dropped to around 3,000, with no deaths from malaria in the last four years.
MIKIKO OTANI, Committee Chair and Coordinator of the Task Force for Cambodia, said that she was very pleased to have a dialogue in person with the Cambodian delegation. The Committee would produce recommendations that it hoped would help Cambodia to implement the Convention.
BUN ENG CHOU, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Interior, Vice-Chair of the Cambodian National Council for Children, and head of the delegation , expressed profound thanks to the Committee for the dialogue. Cambodia had demonstrated its achievements in protecting the rights of children, however, there were some areas where improvement was needed. The delegation looked forward to receiving the Committee’s recommendations, which it would work to address. Ms. Chou reiterated Cambodia’s continued commitment to protecting child rights, and looked forward to continuing to work with the Committee towards this goal.
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