Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sex abuse case shows holes in enforcement



Sex abuse case shows holes in enforcement

Sex abuse case shows holes in enforcement

On the heels of the arrest of a known US sex offender who allegedly molested 11 Cambodian boys since 2010, experts yesterday were quick to blame shortcomings in law enforcement as the root of the Kingdom’s continued status as a child-sex tourism destination.

Cambodian-American Tan Saravuth, 47 – arrested on Friday after one of the victims came forward – had been charged in the state of Oregon with multiple sexual offences, information available to anyone with an internet connection.

Citing a “lack of a robust child protection program”, UNICEF yesterday called on the government to strengthen the capacity of police in combating sex crimes and for immigration authorities to strengthen border controls to deny entry to people identified as perpetrators.

But as Cambodia Center for the Protection of Children’s Rights director Nget Thy put it, despite decades of NGO efforts, “there are still so many gaps”.

“It keeps ongoing like cycles,” he said. “The government needs to strengthen law enforcement.”

Nhep Sopheap, secretary-general for the government’s National Council for Children, said the government recently established a National Child Protection Commission, which is developing a “National Child Protection System”, which, in turn, she maintained, will help authorities intervene in a timely fashion to prevent child abuse.

However, a child protection sub-decree that was expected to go to the Council of Ministers for approval last July is still stalled in the review stage, and it lacks provisions regarding protection of children against sexual predators.

Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, meanwhile, said immigration officials check people coming into the country against a “blacklist” compiled by regional authorities, which “sometimes” includes sex offenders.

However, he was unaware of any measures to identify child abusers within the country, but maintained that people who come to Cambodia and commit crimes are expelled.

The case of a convicted Dutch pedophile would appear to directly contradict that statement. Sebastian Reuijl was convicted in the Netherlands in 2004 for abusing a 12-year-old boy before making his way to the Kingdom.

In October 2011, he was sentenced to three months in prison in Siem Reap for sexually abusing five children, only to be rearrested two years later on new charges, which were dropped a few months later. He was arrested again in August 2016 for allegedly sexually abusing a 4-year-old boy.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • Angkor provides ‘valuable’ water storage

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has stored millions of cubic metres of water at reservoirs in the Angkor area after Cambodia experienced a series of rainstorms over the last few days. The storing of the water, besides serving temple conservation, will also be used to

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from