Phnom Penh: Cambodia’s National Council for Children is appealing to the public to understand the situation of the minor who has killed his 5-year-old neighbor in Tbong Khmum. EAC News has confirmed that the suspect is 14 years old, not 15, as previously reported. CNCC Deputy Secretary General Ms. Sambath Sokunthea has told EAC News that his age has a direct impact on how the case is being handled.
Article 14 of Cambodia’s Juvenile Justice Law Strategic and Operational Plan 2018 – 2020 says that a minor below 14 years old who is suspected of committing an offence shall not be apprehended and will be referred to their district representative. CNCC Deputy Secretary General Ms. Sambath Sokunthea has clarified that the minor in question is 14. Deputy chief of the Chouk Commune, where the murder was committed, Sun Meng Lay, has also confirmed the child’s age, but the fact that he is 14, and not under 14, has created a grey area for the court. He was going to be sent to Provincial Social Affairs, but was returned to the court on Wednesday night, given that he is not under the age of 14. He remains in the care of the court until a further decision is made.
In the meantime, local resident, Phan Doeun, submitted an affidavit to the court stating that the child suspect is homeless and has no parents taking care of him. He apparently sleeps in the local pagoda. According to the CNCC, his parents separated several years ago. His mother later died while his father re-married and relocated. The minor, who also suffers with a mental health problem, has allegedly confessed to killing his 5-year-old neighbor after being bullied. The CNCC is urging the public to understand the minor’s situation.
“All the children are victims. Some are victims of their family; some are victims of the society. So, please don’t hate him. Before you make judgment, please try to understand why they do it. He is just a child with a mental health problem. He also has a right to be taken care of.”
The CNCC has assured the public that if the minor is released by the court, he will receive proper counselling before being reintegrated back into society.