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Joint Statement of Civil Society Support for Children Deprived of Liberty in Cambodia

May 5th, 2021

We, the undersigned organizations, congratulate the successful National Launch of the United Nations Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty (“Global Study”) in Cambodia.

We appreciate and respect the voices of children deprived of liberty that were raised at the
National Launch through the sharing of personal experiences and the joint statement by the
Child and Youth-Led Networks, which highlighted the challenges faced by these children and
their requests to the Cambodian government. We empathize with the troubles, concerns, and
pain expressed by the children, and we fully support their ten concrete requests made to the
government for preventing situations that deprive the liberty of children and for protecting the
rights and wellbeing of children already in those situations.

We agree with the Global Study that deprivation of liberty for children is a deprivation of their
childhood and a form of structural violence against children. We underscore the importance of
framing our understanding of deprivation of liberty to be inclusive of children in a wide array of
situations, including children in conflict with the law, children in prisons with their primary
caregivers, and children living in institutions and centers. We affirm that children deprived of
liberty are entitled to the same rights as all other children, but also recognize that they are in
particularly vulnerable situations with specific needs that require specialized attention.

We acknowledge that Cambodia has made significant progress over the years in establishing a
child justice system, enhancing child protection mechanisms, actively deinstitutionalizing
children, and fighting to end violence against children, including as a Pathfinding Country.
However, there is still work to be done, and the Global Study can provide helpful guidance to
support the government’s ongoing efforts.

We as members of the civil society feel a responsibility to support children around the country
who are facing deprivation of liberty. We will join forces and collaborate with the communities to
study and address the root causes resulting in deprivation of liberty for children at the individual
and systemic levels, as well as to improve the diverse conditions faced by children currently
deprived of liberty in a rights-based and child-friendly manner. We will pursue a holistic and
interdisciplinary approach, encompassing child justice, child protection, social protection,
education, and more.

We declare our firm commitment to work closely with the government, in meaningful partnership
with children, to achieve positive outcomes for all children in Cambodia, both as a measure of
prevention and of response to deprivation of liberty for children. To best prioritize and strategize
our efforts, and to find the best and most promising solutions, we will engage both domestically
and internationally, including through the 2021 World Congress on Justice with Children.

We are determined to advance and bolster our collective efforts to work for and with children,
fully respecting their voices and pursuing an inclusive and effective approach that is sensitive to
the needs and circumstances of children deprived of liberty.

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