Judiciary Blasted at Child Sex Crimes Conference

International investigators and an­ti-human trafficking NGOs blasted Cambodia’s judiciary for its handling of child sex crimes at a conference in Phnom Penh on Tues­day that also praised police for their work in such cases.

The comments came at the end of a two-day conference that saw in­vestigators, NGOs and Ministry of Interior officials come together to discuss child sex tourism.

“We find [Cambodian judges] re­­­lease suspects before they can even be tried, and I don’t understand why,” said Investigator Gary Phillips of the US Department of Homeland Security in Bangkok.

“As soon as it gets to the judicial system, it’s very frustrating. It makes me question why we are here,” he said.

Fellow US agent Taekuk Cho de­scribed Cambodia as being where Thailand was a decade ago, be­fore the Thai government be­gan cracking down on such crimes.

“[Pedophiles] going to Thailand 10 or 15 years ago are now coming to Cambodia because there is no risk,” Cho said, adding that he and his colleague spend about half their time working on cases here.

“These guys know they can pay somebody off and out they go. It’s a fight we can’t win without the judicial system,” he said.

Stephanie Remion, director of NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, ques­tioned whether the judiciary was undermining police morale.

“How can police stay motivated if [their work] isn’t followed up at the court level?” she asked.

Ministry of Interior law enforcement adviser Christian Guth ack­now­ledged there were problems within the judiciary. But he was con­fident that a new generation of judges being trained at the Royal School for Judges and Pro­secu­tors would ensure that the courts start fulfilling their responsibilities.

“We know police have made pro­gress,” Guth said. “I am opti­mis­tic in two or three years, things will change. Each of us is doing our best to improve the judicial sys­­tem.”

Justice Minister Ang Vong Va­thana and secretaries of state Tuot Lux and Kassie Neou said they were in a meeting and would not comment.

Related Stories

Latest News