As more travelers come to Cambodia each year, the number of tourists coming to have sex with children may increase as well, officials at a two-day conference on the issue said Monday.
“With tourism numbers rising, we can expect the problem to increase unless something is done,” said Talmage Payne, country director for World Vision, which is holding the conference in Phnom Penh.
Bringing together government, police officials and representatives from anti-human trafficking NGOs, the US State Department-funded conference aims to help coordinate international child sex crime investigations, Payne said.
While unable to provide statistics, he said the perception is that the last five years have seen a steady increase in child sex crimes committed by tourists.
Investigator Gary Phillips of the US Department of Homeland Security in Bangkok emphasized the need for teamwork at various levels, pointing to the conviction of US pedophile Michael Clark as an example.
Clark, 69, was arrested in Phnom Penh on June 28, 2003, after he was caught naked with two boys, ages 10 and 13, in a guesthouse. He was charged with debauchery in Cambodia, deported to the US and sentenced there to eight years in prison.
Phillips said local NGOs and Cambodian police were essential in Clark’s successful conviction.