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Concern over safety of children

Concern over safety of children

T HE repercussions of investigations into suspected pedophiles have turned ugly,

with the kidnapping of a child and harassment of NGO staff.

Three

children - including the one abducted, who later escaped - are in safe

houses.

One NGO sent an investigator and his family into hiding, and

arranged for police officers to stand guard at its offices, last

week.

Complaints have been made to the police and government authorities

to help ensure the safety of the NGOs and the children.

A Khmer "pimp",

alleged to have been involved in procuring children for pedophiles, is believed

to be behind the intimidation.

The kidnapped boy, like the other two in

hiding, is a complainant against British doctor Gavin Scott, under investigation

for rape.

There is no suggestion that Scott, in T3 prison at the time,

had any knowledge of the kidnapping.

The boy, aged 15, was taken from the

offices of the human rights group Licadho where three of five complainants

against Scott were being housed at the time.

On the afternoon of

Saturday, July 1, three Khmer men are said to have arrived at Licadho. Two of

them, who were armed, remained outside and the other, the alleged pimp, entered

the building.

He asked for one of the boys by name and was told he was

not there. He pushed his way inside, found the boy, and took him away with the

other two men.

NGO staff alerted senior police and government officials,

who promised to investigate.

Within two days, police officers assured

them they knew who had the boy and would see that he was returned. The boy and

alleged pimp were interviewed together by police and released, apparently

because the boy did not complain about being with the man.

The boy later

told NGO workers he was taken out of Phnom Penh. He later escaped and turned up

at the offices of the NGO on July 5. He was unhurt.

Licadho said the boy

and the other two complainants were to be have been moved from its offices the

day after the kidnapping. They are now being cared for by other NGOs.

Two

days after the boy returned, a man went to Licadho inquiring by name for one of

their investigators.

The man said he had information that the life of the

man, and of the three children, were in danger.

The man left after being

told the investigator was not there. He returned later that morning with two

other men - one of whom was recognized as having been with the alleged pimp when

the boy was kidnapped.

The men inquired after the investigator and spoke

of another child who had been kidnapped. They left angrily when they received no

help.

In the afternoon, a group of four or five street children

approached Licadho staff, asking where the investigator and the three children

were.

Licadho later asked for two policemen to stay at its offices, while

security measures are also being taken by the NGOs caring for the

children.

Meanwhile, the ADHOC human rights group has confirmed that it

will represent the interests of the three children in any court

proceedings.

A total of five children have given testimonies against

Scott, but the whereabouts of the other two are unknown.

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