World Vision, an international NGO, has launched a program to improve awareness
among Ministry of Tourism officials and workers in the private sector about
tourists who come here for underage sex.
Cambodia has rapidly gained a
reputation as a place where underage sex is cheaply available and punishment
"We want them to understand the potential negative impact
on tourism, not just the positive," said Sary Mony, program manager at
WorldVision. He said those who had finished the course would help train
The Child Safe Tourism program is a result of a recommendation
contained in a WorldVision survey released in 2000. That report was the first
into underage sex tourism in Cambodia.
The MoT signed an agreement with
WorldVision to put together the program. The first two day training course was
held early April in Phnom Penh; the next will be at the end of the month in Siem
Reap, the country's most popular destination.
WorldVision's Mony said his
team would train tourism officials, hotel and guest-house owners, and tour
operators about the problem. They would also learn about the laws relating to
underage sexual exploitation. However, the loopholes in Cambodian law and
widespread judicial corruption mean that offenders escape charges relatively
"Everyone knows there is corruption in Cambodia's courts," said
Mony. "And no matter how many laws we pass, the important thing is to put them
into practice. If we don't make the law effective, it will be useless, even if
the National Assembly passes thousands of them."
"We will also produce
posters and stick them at all international border entry points into Cambodia,"
said Mony, "so the tourists will know that child sex here is a
Prosecutions are under way against several foreigners accused of
sex offenses against children. Frenchman Pierre Guynot, whose Sihanoukville
trial last November was postponed for further investigation, was accused of
using the interim period to try to buy the silence of his accusers.
Sophea, a lawyer for several boys in Sihanoukville, said Guynot had tried to pay
four boys $600 each to withdraw their testimony. The prosecuting judge, Tak Kim
Sea, told the Post recently that four alleged victims had withdrawn their
complaints against Guynot, 45, the owner of Obey Karting. He was arrested in
May, 2001 for illegal possession of weapons, illegal confinement of a boy, and
The only foreigner currently serving time for a child
sex offense is Briton John Keeler, who was convicted of debauchery in November,
2000 and sentenced for three years. He was arrested in August, 2000 for taking
indecent video footage of four girls, aged between 8 and 10, in a park in
Takmau. Media reports indicate that Keeler might receive a royal amnesty during
Khmer New Year for good behavior.
Two other foreigners accused of child
sex offenses are also awaiting trial. Alain Berruti had his hearing postponed
April 5 after rejecting the female lawyer provided by the court. A police
official said Berruti was arrested in June last year on the charge of paying
minors for sex.
Italian Luigi Falchi is awaiting the services of an
Italian speaking lawyer to defend him. He is in custody in Banteay Meanchey
province in the north-west.