Internet Hotline Helps Combat Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse

An internet hotline for reporting online child sexual exploitation and abuse has resulted in three arrests and numerous investigations since it went live more than a year ago, anti-pedophile NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE) said on Thursday.

Khoem Vando, deputy director of field operations at APLE, which set up the hotline, said that reports via the website—internethotline­cambodia.org—have led to 46 cases of child sexual abuse material and 32 cases of exploitative content involving adults being removed from the web.

Of the three arrests, two suspects were charged with crimes relating to online abuse, including the distribution of child pornography, Mr. Vando said.

Another 25 cases of offline abuse were reported and investigated, though none resulted in an arrest, he said.

“It’s now known to the public more,” he said of the hotline in an email on Thursday. “However, we need further awareness to let more [people] know in order that they can take action to report any online activities in relation to CSAM [child sexual abuse material] and pornography.”

James Sutherland, a spokesman for Friends International, a child protection NGO that has operated a global telephone Child Safe Hotline to report abuse or a child in danger since 2005, said that in Phnom Penh alone there were 1,305 calls received last year, 22 of which were referred to the authorities for criminal investigation, leading to seven arrests.

Though not reported through APLE’s hotline, Mr. Vando said his organization was currently representing a 14-year-old girl in a criminal case relating to online sexual exploitation.

The perpetrator has been charged under criminal and anti-human trafficking laws and is currently being held in provisional detention at Prey Sar prison, Mr. Vando said.

“The abuse on her was both physical (sexual abuse) and online, where sexual abuse material of her was shared on Facebook,” he said.

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