A Change of Guard

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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Police investigate girl's disappearance from riverside

A member of the Child Protection Unit conducts interviews on Phnom Penh’s riverside late last week after a young girl was suspected of being kidnapped. CPU

Police investigate girl's disappearance from riverside
Mon, 2 May 2016 ppp
Mech Dara and Jack Davies

“She leaves her daughter alone a lot,”

Police are investigating possible foul play in the disappearance of a 7-year-old girl who went missing from Phnom Penh’s riverside on Friday.

The girl, Sang Hong, was last seen about 7am by her mother, Leav Lim, 43, being led away by a boy she described as being in his early teens. She said she had seen the boy for the first time on Thursday evening.

“He said he was from Kampot, that his step-mother hurt him too much so he came to Phnom Penh,” she said yesterday. “I pitied him and let him sleep on our rug. He had effeminate mannerisms, three rotten front teeth, very short hair, knee-length black trousers and a red football shirt.”

Lim, Hong and her 8-year-old brother have been living on the streets around riverside for seven years.

Chey Sophoeun, deputy chief of justice for Phsar Kandal I commune, where Lim made the initial report of her daughter’s abduction, said it was the first reported in the commune. However, he did note that on previous occasions Hong had been taken to his police post after getting lost.

Suspected kidnapping victim Sang Hong, 7, in a recent photo. Photo supplied

“She leaves her daughter alone a lot,” said Sophoeun.

Larry, a local business owner who asked to be referred to by his first name only, said he had been supporting Lim and her children for a year and a half.

Having reported her daughter missing, Lim came to Larry’s restaurant shortly after lunchtime on Friday, he said.

“She was totally broken up,” said Larry, who described Hong as, “a very vibrant, happy girl. She’s just a very, very nice little kid.”

Larry then contacted James McCabe, director of the Child Protection Unit (CPU), an NGO that works closely with the National Police in cases of violence against children.

McCabe said last night that the CPU and the police were investigating all possibilities, adding that there were “genuine concerns” for Hong’s welfare.

“There will be a significant police presence on both sides of the river on Monday morning,” McCabe said. “One of the things we will be doing tomorrow is reaching out to NGOs that deal with street children and asking them to keep an eye out as well.”

Anyone with information that might lead to Hong’s recovery is encouraged to contact local police or to call the CPU’s hotline on 078 959 090.

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