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

  • PM Hun Sen says dangers averted

    Delivering a campaign speech from his home via Facebook Live on Thursday, caretaker Prime Minister Hun Sen said his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) had carried the country through danger in its latest mandate. He was specifically referring to the threat of a “colour revolution”

  • Bumpy road for local ride apps

    Ride-hailing services seem to have grown into a dominant player in the capital’s transportation sector. Relatively unknown and little used in the Kingdom at the beginning of this year, services like PassApp, Grab and ExNet are now commonplace on Phnom Penh streets. However, the

  • Serious flooding across country

    The Kampong Speu provincial Committee for Disaster Management on Wednesday issued an alert after non-stop heavy rain caused widespread flooding. In Koh Kong province, authorities are working with the disaster committee and the Cambodian Red Cross to assist those affected after more than 350 homes were

  • CNRP points to King in call for vote boycott

    Leaders of the former Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) have taken a new tack in their call for a boycott of the national elections later this month. They are now claiming that the people should follow the King, who is expected to abide by tradition