Cambodia, which law enforcement experts said on Monday is a top holiday destination for digital child pornographers and chatroom pedophiles, has a police force largely unfamiliar with computers.
US software giant Microsoft, in collaboration with the British Embassy and Britain’s National Criminal Intelligence Service, aims to close the technology gap during two weeks of intensive training in Phnom Penh that started Monday.
Jim Gamble, deputy director of Britain’s National Crime Intelligence Service, said at a press briefing that his agency will train police on basic investigative and computer evidence-gathering techniques.
“We can do our part to intercept those coming from the UK to inflict pain on Cambodian children,” Gamble said.
“I would be disappointed if this training did not lead to a series of arrests in the next 12 months. I would like to see operations, including undercover operations,” he said. He added that Cambodian authorities are already monitoring popular Web sites for pedophiles.
Despite this, the Microsoft team said Cambodia is years away from developing a Microsoft-based sexual offender database such as that currently in use in Canada.
Microsoft consultant Dirk Hutchins said basics have to be covered when it comes to computer skills. Microsoft first trained Cambodian police in July, as a lead-up to this week’s training, he said.
“The greater portion of those we were training had not used a computer before,” he said.
During this week’s training, topics including “What Is The Internet?” will be covered.
The training will ultimately involve learning about publicly available tools such as Neotrace that can trace e-mails to servers worldwide. Police, however, will not be trained to investigate those communicating in Asian languages.
Although the US this month placed sanctions on Cambodia for failing to combat human trafficking, Gamble said the government is committed to combating child prostitution.