Tuesday, March 31, 2015
# 107 Questions for Thierry Darnaudet & Samleang Seila at APLE
Dear Thierry Darnaudet and Samleang Seila
The following, to be found on the APLE website in relation to the arrest of Hang Vibol (H.V.), invites comment:
“Phnom Penh, Cambodia – In response to the article posted in the Cambodia Daily on 7 March 2015, APLE would like to clarify some critical points.
H.V. was hired at APLE in 2003 due to his experience working in child rights and protection. At this time, he had a clean criminal record and seemed ideally suited for the role. During his tenure, H.V. was also running an orphanage. In 2004, he left APLE amicably to focus fully on his work in the orphanage. There were no suspicions at this time that he had ever abused a child.
Thierry Darnaudet did not make the initial complaint of sexual abuse against H.V., nor did he pressure anyone to do so. Two French individuals reported their suspicions to Friends International, First Step Cambodia, and MoSVY. Friends International later reported the case to MoSVY as well and requested for an investigation. In July 2014, MoSVY requested APLE’s assistance in corroborating the claims.
Given Hang Vibol’s accusation that you, Thierry, were guilty of sex crimes yourself, surely it must have occurred to you (and you, Samleang Seila) that there was a clear conflict of interest here. Not only should MoSVY have never asked APLE to investigate under the circumstances, APLE should not have accepted the task.
APLE then started a preliminary investigation to gather more information and determine possible abuse. Some days later, APLE identified an adolescent who had previously lived in the orphanage; the adolescent stated that H.V. had sexually abused him during that time.
Was the interview with this young man videotaped? Did a qualified professional conduct the interview? How many people were present at the interview and was there any independent observer who can verify that the young man was not coerced into saying what APLE wants to hear or offered a bribe to do so.
For many years now APLE has been accused of paying children and their families to make accusations of sexual abuse against men that APLE wishes to see convicted of sex crimes. The case of David Fletcher is the one I know best – one in which the alleged rape victim says she was not raped and in which the medical evidence says she was not raped. APLE’s credibility vis a vis the production of witnesses who bolster APLE’s case is zero.
APLE immediately reported this to the AHTJPD. At the request of the AHTJPD, APLE continued its investigation and two more adolescents, who had also previously lived in the orphanage, were identified; they stated H.V. had sexually abused them. The three identified adolescents also indicated that more children in the orphanage were being abused by H.V. At this point, APLE reported the case to AHTJPD again. As APLE is an NGO, our capacities were then focused on the welfare of the children inside the orphanage.
If APLE’S primary concern is the welfare of children why is it that on so many occasions APLE has allowed abuse of children to continue until such time as there is evidence of the abuse and cameras can be present to record the arrest of the abuser? Surely, if the protection of children was APLE’S top priority, APLE would prevent the abuse from happening!?
To this end, APLE supported both action by the AHTJPD to investigate and MoSVY to remove the children from a potentially harmful environment.
Between August 2014 and February 2015, the AHTJPD carried out an investigation and obtained further evidence in this case. The AHTJPD, assisted by APLE, re-interviewed the three aforementioned adolescents and interviewed four witnesses in the case.
According to the time line you have presented here, APLE believed that it had strong evidence of Hang Vibol’s guilt in July or August of 2014. Why did MoSVY not intervene at this point and request that Hang Vibol stand aside from his job whilst an investigation took place.
Given the seriousness of the allegations (a man running an orphanage sexually abusing children in it) why did it take APLE six months to interview the children in the orphanage?
Why did APLE inform the film crew (CAMBODIA’S CHILD PREDATORS) that it was conducting an investigation into Hang Vibol, in the midst of the investigation, and allow the film crew to film? In so doing, APLE compromised the investigation.
Were this second lot of interviews conducted by professionals and videotaped?
In addition, the AHTJPD and a DoSVY official conducted interviews with fourteen children, who were living at the orphanage. APLE was not present during these fourteen interviews and had no contact with any of these children in the past. Based on the four witness accounts and statements of sexual abuse made by the three adolescents and seven of the fourteen children, H.V. was arrested by the AHTJPD on 2nd March 2015.
According to the time line APLE has presented it took 8 months to interview less than 20 children whom MoSVY and APLE had reason to believe had been, were being or soon could be sexually abused by Hang Vibol? This proposition lacks all credibility.
There is no reason why all of these children could not have been interviewed in a week. The are very good reasons why they should have been interviewed within the shortest possible time frame.
Does APLE allege that any of the children were sexually abused between July 2014 and March 2015? If so, APLE has quite clearly NOT put the welfare of the children first and, indeed, has been complicit in their abuse.
The kindest observation that could be made about the way in which this matter has been handled is that APLE is staffed by incompetent amateurs.
In the wake of this, APLE continued to advocate for the closure of the orphanage and transfer of the children to safe places. MoSVY assessed the orphanage and decided to close it five days later. The children were either reunited with their families or placed in temporary care centers for assessment and counseling. We fully support this action and are grateful to the organisations that have offered to support these children. APLE is liaising with these partners to ensure suitable care and counseling.
Should the children choose to pursue legal action against H.V., APLE has offered legal counseling and representation to all victims; accepting this assistance is optional.
I wonder, Thierry Darnaudet and Samleang Seila, if either of you are familiar with the concept that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty? It seems not since APLE has already decided that the children involved in this case are ‘victims’.
Having decided on Hang Vibol’s guilt APLE now has a vested interest in seeing to it that the courts arrive at the same conclusion as APLE. In any other country in the world this case would be thrown out of court immediately on the grounds that all the evidence has been tainted by APLE’s incompetence.
APLE knows there is no conflict of interest in this case; however, we are aware and understanding that others may feel differently. As a result, APLE has contacted another child protection NGO to partner in the provision of legal representation, if the victims ask us to do so.
What is the name of the other child protection NGO?
H.V. was charged with Indecent Assault with Aggravating Circumstances. These charges are based on the AHTJPD’s police file. H.V. has accused Thierry Darnaudet of fabricating these claims out of revenge and APLE of acting on this; however, Thierry Darnaudet has no role or influence in APLE or its investigations. APLE is an independently run, local NGO, which takes allegations of child sexual abuse extremely seriously and would never participate in, encourage, or support a case it knew to be untrue.
If, as is claimed here, you have “no role or influence” Thierry, what is the nature of your relationship with APLE? Are you on the board? Do you receive a wage?
Please explain the following, to be found on Facebook:
Good evening, I am Mr Thierry Darnaudet, president of French NGO Action pour les Enfants, working against travelling sex offenders in Cambodia (www.aplecambodia.org).We often work with FBI and ICE to deport US sex offenders from Cambodia back to the US. We and OBB south Africa are launching a petition (ring the alarm) addressed to the Dutch Minister of justice to ban the pedophile Dutch group Martijn and any similar groups. We have 104 NGOs from 35 countries in our side already signed up already (http://ring-the-alarm.com/signatories/) and we are seeking the support of US based strong advocacy groups against sexual exploitation of children such as yours and others. Can you kindly have a look at http://ring-the-alarm.com/ and see if you can be a part of our effort not to have a Nambla similar group in Europ? I thank you in advance. Thierry Darnaudet.
Home www.aplecambodia.org Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE) is a non-governmental organization dedicated to ending child sexual abuse and exploitation in Cambodia. Since 2003, APLE has partnered with local authorities to rescue children and bring perpetrators to legal account
As for the proposition that APLE does not pursue a case it knows to be untrue, this is palpable nonsense. You both know that David Fletcher did not rape Yang Dany. You have both known this since Sept 2010 when a doctor, in his report for the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, declared her to be a virgin still. You have pursued David Fletcher since then, and pursue him still today, because APLE would lose what little credibility the NGO has if the courts were to acknowledge that David Fletvher could not have raped Yang Dany and that the whole case against him was fabricated by APLE – with a good deal of help from some others whom shall remain nameless for the time being.
We invite qualified parties to contact us if they would like to independently review our involvement in this case. APLE is committed to transparency and honesty; we conduct investigations to the best of our ability and remain ever-focused on protecting children.
Given your commitment to “transparency and honesty” Thierry Darnaudet and Samleang Seila, I am here taking you up on your invitation to “independently review” APLE’S “involvement in this case.”
I can be contacted at the following email address: email@example.com