Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Man pleads guilty to charges of targeting Cambodia’s kids

Man pleads guilty to charges of targeting Cambodia’s kids

A child sits by the river in Phnom Penh’s Svay Pak district in 2013
A child sits by the river in Phnom Penh’s Svay Pak district in 2013. A Singaporean national recently charged with paedophilic crimes described the district as a hotbed for child sex trafficking. Sam Rith

Man pleads guilty to charges of targeting Cambodia’s kids

A Singaporean man who court documents show advised other men on how to arrange sexual encounters with children in Cambodia pleaded guilty to several charges in a Singapore court on Friday.

After receiving a tip from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, Singaporean authorities arrested 31-year-old Chan Chun Hong on March 1, 2014, according to a Consolidated Statement of Facts from the State Courts of the Republic of Singapore, obtained by the Post yesterday. Charges include more than 100 pedophilic crimes.

Hong pled guilty to seven charges, including three counts of distributing information to promote commercial sex, according to Singapore’s the Straits Times.

“The Accused wanted to find girls between the age of 8 and 12 years in Cambodia,” the statement of facts reads. Through correspondence using phone messenger system WhatsApp, “The Accused informed that ‘many little girls in Cambodia are from Vietname [sic] actually. And it is easier to find in Cambodia than in Vietnam.’”

For years, Hong participated in the distribution and collection of child pornography and helped other men organise trips to Cambodia, the court document says.

Hong also mentioned other countries, including the Philippines and Indonesia but appeared to be most specific about Cambodia.

Joint efforts between countries – like that displayed by the US and Singapore in this instance – is imperative to the effort to end child sex tourism in Cambodia, said Nget Thy, executive director of the Cambodian Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights.

“I think it’s very important for other countries, other people to try . . . to prevent this situation,” Thy told the Post yesterday. “Based on my observation, [child sex tourism in Cambodia] is still going on.”

Many victimised children are wholly unaware of the illegality of adults forcing them to perform sex acts, said Lim Mony, deputy director of women and children’s rights at rights group Adhoc.

“This is why we have to pay attention,” Mony said. “They do not know what [is happening to them] is illegal.”

In graphic email and Whats-App exchanges with “Teo Dennis” of Singapore, Hong describes specific areas of Cambodia, namely Phnom Penh’s Svay Pak district, as a hotbed for pedophilic activity.

Hong goes on to describe the ages of children available for sex and the sexual acts child prostitutes will perform on men who travel to the area.

“You can go Cambodia, Phnom Penh. The place is called Svay Pak,” Hong is reported as messaging in December, 2013. “There are many there you can try. Age around 6 to 16. Depending on what u want to do.”

The area was singled out by a 2012 US Trafficking and Persons Report as a hub for virgin trafficking.

Messages also included the prices child sex tourists could expect to pay for such a trip to Cambodia, even airfare calculations.

Describing the area as “actually quite well organized,” Hong said the trips would likely run from $400 to $700 with round trip flights.

In addition to charges of promoting child prostitution, Hong is charged with owning and distributing a staggering amount of child pornography, according to the Statement of Facts. Images and video include children being penetrated by adults, the court documents say.

Sentencing will occur later this month, the Straits Times reported Friday. The prosecution is asking the court to sentence Hong to a minimum of six years.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MOM KUNTHEAR

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