A convicted British child sex offender admitted yesterday that his NGO, which distributes food to children at the capital’s Stung Meanchey dump, is not registered with the government. The Interior Ministry said that it is investigating the British national’s activities and plans to submit its findings to Phnom Penh Municipal Court.
“I did not register my volunteer organization,” said 65-year-old David Fletcher, director of the Rubbish Dump Project, by text message.
Fletcher served seven months in a British prison after being found guilty there in 1997 for raping a 15-year-old girl, a fact that was highlighted Sunday in an article published by British tabloid newspaper the Daily Mirror.
“We will send the complaint [against Fletcher] to the court and wait for a response which will take some time,” Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said yesterday.
Lt Gen Sopheak added that the long-awaited NGO law-currently being drafted by the government- will contain a provision requiring more stringent background checks for NGO employees and directors.
According to the Rubbish Dump Project website, Fletcher solicited money for his organization from both tourists who volunteered to hand out food in Stung Meanchey dump and visitors to his website, which provided would-be donors with instructions on how to wire money to a bank account in his name. The website also claimed that the project receives financial support from the US Embassy.
“We are not aware of any US assistance or support provided to the Rubbish Dump Project,” US Embassy spokesman John Johnson wrote by e-mail yesterday.
The British Embassy in Phnom Penh declined to comment on the matter.
Fletcher said yesterday by telephone that he had been forced to leave Phnom Penh because of the uproar that began on Sunday when the Daily Mirror published its article.
“I feel threatened,” he said, adding that he has been verbally abused by members of the expatriate community. “Everything had been twisted and taken out of context,” Fletcher said.
“But I will square my business before I leave Cambodia. I’m not going to just run off.”
(Additional Reporting Neou Vannarin)