A British newspaper published evidence on Sunday that foreign pedophiles are operating freely in Cambodia despite government vows to deploy hundreds of police officers to stamp out the country’s thriving child sex industry.
The Sunday Telegraph spent more than a week secretly recording conversations and video-taping child sex suspects from the US, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Germany and Britain at Phnom Penh’s notorious brothel village, Svay Pak.
The men, many of whom bragged of having sex with pre-teenage girls, were either named in full or by their first name in the lengthy Sunday Telegraph article.
Christian Guth, a former French policeman who advises the Interior Ministry’s Anti-Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation Unit, said evidence gathered in the newspaper article will be compiled for possible use in court prosecutions.
“We will investigate these allegations as a matter of priority,” Guth told the Telegraph.
Some of the suspects captured on tape said they were being more cautious since the recent arrest of two Australian teachers in Siem Reap province and 69-year-old British national Derek Baston, who was arrested with an 11-year-old girl in Svay Pak in July.
However, those interviewed by the newspaper said they expected the arrests were merely a token gesture ahead of the August visit of then-UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson.
None of the child abusers said they expected the crackdown to last, the Telegraph reported. “It is still a sweet shop, but the brakes are on now,” the article quoted Carl, a teacher in his 40s from Leicester in Britain, as saying.
Several of the child sex customers also said they lamented the end of conflict in Cambodia, which they said was making it harder for pedophiles to operate unhindered.
“I’d like to be a warlord and get some AK-47s and start shooting,” Chris, a US citizen from the state of Nevada—who said he was in the pornography business—was quoted as saying. “You need chaos to operate,” he said.