While the Dr. Scott case remains one of the most talked about
and contoversial issues in the Phnom Penh expat community, it seems that most
people can agree one on thing; what started as a well intentioned effort to help
street children has degenerated into an uncomfortable and embarrassing dilemma
for all concerned.
No one can argue with the basic motivations of ECPAT
in wanting to do something about the sexual exploitation of
ECPAT has stated that they have no intention of depriving Dr.
Scott of his rights, but, unfortunately, their actions have directly resulted in
They point out that Cambodia's lack of police and
judicial capacity make it a fertile ground for foreign pedophiles, and yet they
seem willing to use this very lack of due process to achieve their
British lawyer Robert Carlin has stated that according to UNTAC
law, Scott should be released on the grounds that he has been denied access to
an attorney. This denial of access is partially due to inappropriate meetings
taking place between ECPAT and CDP, thereby eradicating one of Scott's strongest
defense possibilities, and directly involving ECPAT in the denial of Dr. Scott's
rights (whether international or not).
Now that it has become obvious to
all that his rights are, in fact, being violated, does ECPAT support his further
ECPAT has also stated that they took testimony of
child victims because local police are not trained in the specialty of
questioning children. But where has it been documented that members of ECPAT
have received such training. Is questioning children for criminal investigations
a standard professional skill of NGO staff members, or do certain ECPAT members
hold credentials for this, and from which institutions?
The complete lack
of physical evidence would also certainly be a stumbling block to prosecution in
the west. It must be a relief for ECPAT to have this burdern lifted from their
While ECPAT states that they have no political agenda, the
fact remains that the two investigations they have conducted, which have
resulted in arrest, have both involved homosexual foreigners.
It has been
nearly three months since Dr. Scott's arrest, and almost nine months since the
investigations began, yet not a single case of a Cambodian male having sex with
an under age girl has resulted in prosecution, even though that remains the
overwhelming bulk of the problem.
I must also say that I feel very
uncomfortable reading about the "twelve NGOs" that make up ECPAT.
an organization conducting private criminal investigations of our neighbors and
colleagues, and I feel that the public has a right to know who these people are,
not just the name of a single spokesperson.
I call on Naly Pilorge, or
any ECPAT spokesperson to release a public statement citing: 1) the names of all
twelve member NGOs and their representatives involved, 2) their official
position on the fact that Dr. Scott's rights are being violated as a direct
result of their activities, 3) a lisiting of their credentials for conducting
the questioning of children in criminal investigations, and 4) an overview of
their future plans, and how those plans will help to alleviate the problem of
child prostitution in Cambodia.
This seems to me the minimal appropriate
response the public will need if the future efforts of this organization are to
be supported without reservation.
- Phillip Sykes, Phnom Penh
(ECPAT was asked in writing to
answer the above questions - and more - by the Phnom Penh Post. ECPAT
spokesperson Tony Culnane declined to reply till after Scott's trial. - Ed.)