Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Foreigner blacklist defended

Foreigner blacklist defended

Foreigner blacklist defended

THE Minister of Women's and Veteran's Affairs, Mu Sochua, has defended the Government's

announcement on September 11 that it will establish a permanent "blacklist"

of suspected foreign rapists and child-sex predators as "a necessity to protect

Cambodian women and children".

"Halting the trafficking of women and children is a priority for our Government,"

Sochua told the Post in an interview on September 12.

"When the justice system doesn't deliver justice to victims, the executive branch

must do it."

However it is a move that has been criticized by some human rights workers who say

it is outside the rule of law and does not address the real problems.

"Once again it is the rule of arbitrary decision," one rights worker said.

"It won't overcome the fact that what is needed here is a functioning court

system."

According to Sochua, an interministerial committee with the participation of child

protection NGO representatives would be given the power to bar foreign child-sex

suspects from receiving or renewing a Cambodian visa.

Insisting that the proposed committee would evaluate the visa status of foreign child

sex suspects "on a case by case basis", Sochua said the committee's priority

would be to blacklist foreign child-sex suspects who had been freed or acquitted

by a Cambodian court.

"We'll request the Ministry of Interior to forward the details of each case,

then we'll take a look at the decision of the court," she said.

"If we see a lot of inconsistencies in the procedure of the court, then we'll

take action."

Sochua's announcement of the blacklist's creation came in the wake of an interministerial

meeting at the Council of Ministers on September 11 called by Hun Sen to address

a growing public perception of the inability or unwillingness of the Cambodian judiciary

to prosecute and convict foreign child-sex suspects.

That perception was supported by Sochua herself, citing numerous recent cases in

which foreign sex suspects have been freed from custody before facing trial.

"If courts don't provide protection, who will?" Sochua said of the Government's

plan to create the blacklist. "[The] Justice [system] doesn't give women and

children the right protection, so an administrative measure should."

The proposed introduction of a visa blacklist for child sex suspects was supported

by Chantol Oung, Executive Director of the Cambodian Women's Crisis Center.

"If you look at the Cambodian court system and how they handle cases [of foreigner

child sex suspects], I really support the decision of the minister," Oung said,

saying that only one out of at least 30 cases CWCC has documented in the past three

years involving foreigners charged with child-sex offenses resulted in a conviction.

"Cambodian courts are not trustworthy, so we must do something special [against

foreign child suspects]."

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