100 Women Interviews Scott Neeson – Founder, Cambodian Children’s Fund

Last year 100 Women were lucky enough to have Scott Neeson – Founder of Cambodian Children’s Fund and previous 100 Women grant recipient, speak at one of our events. And we had the opportunity to interview him after.

What is the relationship between the Cambodian Children’s Fund and Child Protection Unit?

Cambodian Children’s Fund was a very specific charity, very holistic in a geographic area where we work with families and children. The Child Protection Unit is a national program and it was established specifically to tackle child abuse, mainly sexual abuse, murder or attempted murder, any serious abuse against children. And it’s unique, it’s a joint venture between Cambodian Children’s Fund and the Cambodian National Police, headed up by an ex-Australian Police Offer and two other Police Officer’s working with him.

The partnership with the Cambodian National Police is the ability to succond police to help with the investigations and more importantly to build the capacity so that those police can the teach other police. And the with every investigation when James McCabe, who is the head of the CPU, the police in that area are better resourced and better trained to handle the next crime.

How was the 100 Women donation used?

The 100 Women donation went to training the Cambodian female police in interview techniques and the training was undertaken by British Policewomen, who are specialists in that area.

It’s really important because the Cambodian judicial system is French based and there is no children’s courts, so the child has to face the perpetrator with the policeman, no advocates and they each get to tell their version.

After that the investigative magistrate comes in, they go through it again, into court. With the CPU and the Cambodian National Police, if you have a very good investigation, forensics, fingerprints, then you can avoid that process. You can often fast track it, where the guilt is established fairly-quickly and with the money that is given from 100 Women, we have an empathetic and very professional Cambodian policewomen, who can now interview children, make them feel safe, work as their advocates and it makes for a far less traumatising process.

It’s gone from the old days of just three people in a room, a poorly trained Cambodian police officer, the perpetrator, and the child, and this is so traumatising children wouldn’t often want to report it, and the parents wouldn’t want to report it. And now it’s professional, it’s quite conclusive because there are forensics there and the child is much more likely to report the crime as the trauma is limited.

How can 100 Women members continue to help the Cambodian Children’s Fund?

The CPU works very hard, it’s very low profile. One of the elements is to ensure the Cambodian National Police get due recognition, so we are always looking for resources. So, we are looking for money for example for AV machines, so when the child first gives the interview it’s recorded, there are three simultaneous copies that are time coded, one for the prosecution, the defense and one for the files, so we are raising money to buy those for the major provincial offices is a priority, right down to simple things like a car for Jim as he drives over 100,000 kilometres a year going all different places.

For more information about the Cambodian Children’s Fund visit their website https://www.cambodianchildrensfund.org/

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