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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - ECPAT bona fides

ECPAT bona fides

The Editor,

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

children.

ECPAT has stated that they have no intention of depriving Dr.

Scott of his rights, but, unfortunately, their actions have directly resulted in

that happening.

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

aims.

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

illegal incarceration?

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

shoulders.

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.

This is

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.)

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