In January 2015 New Day made our 4th annual grant to APLE. The US$25,000 will fund direct staff costs for their Court Support program that provides social work and legal support for victims and their families as their cases go through the court system in Cambodia.
We are pleased to continue our support of APLE and are proud of their recent achievement winning the international 2015 STAR Impact Award from the STAR Foundation.
We have the following summary of developments from our recent update with the organisation:
Call with Seila Samleang, APLE Country Director – January 12, 2016
APLE was established in 2003 as an international NGO and in 2014 became a fully Cambodian NGO with offices in Phnom Penh, Siem Riep, Sihanoukville and Battambang. From 2003 to 2015 APLE rescued 746 victims from further abuse and assisted in the convictions of 251 sex offenders. It also trained 10,698 individuals in communities and law enforcement. APLE started a strategic planning journey in September 2014, finishing in November 2015. It’s 2016-2020 Strategic Plan includes a new mission, vision and core pillars of focus.
The motivation to undergo this strategic plan is to rational its services and focus and limit its output to its specialist areas, leaving areas where there is replication from partner NGOs. It is also a cost effectiveness exercise. It also wants to slowly hand over day to day investigative responsibilities to the Cambodian police through training and capacity building and mentorship. APLE sees its cooperation with the Cambodia police as a key and unique feature, as well as the courts support it provides to victims both legally and from a social work perspective:
– It will move away from a large team of investigators to a smaller team with investigators mentoring Cambodian police investigators to guide them through cases and build their capacity. There has been a lot of resistance both from the Cambodian police and foreign law enforcement agencies that APLE will decrease its direct investigative capacity and activity. APLE has agreed for this to be a slow process with the decrease happening hand in hand with the capacity building of the police.
– It will focus on its area of strength providing court support to victims and their families with two lawyers and a legal specialist on staff. The legal specialist will be tasked with researching, advising and advocating to the Cambodian legal system and government to help to set up more comprehensive laws related to Child Sexual Abuse and streamlined, efficient and child friendly court processes.
– It will focus on providing robust and specialist social worker support to victims and families as they go through the court process.
– It will work to train key members of the community in how to protect children from sexual abuse and identify potential abuse, building a committed informant network and running hotlines where members of the public can safely report on suspected cases.
APLE expects a slight decrease in staff Head count from 45 to 41. They are looking to employ a grants manager, legal technical adviser and monitoring and evaluation specialist.
The APLE board was established in 2015 and is functioning well and providing support to the Country Director in strategic planning, expertise and fundraising.