Unicef Outraged By Cambodian Child Porn Trade

The UN Children’s Fund ex­pressed outrage Wednesday that Cambodian children are being used in pornography and called on the public to report child porn. The UN agency, however, admitted “that there is presently no specific law penalizing child pornography in Cambodia.”

Unicef’s statement followed revelations Wednesday that child por-nography, depicting children possibly as young as 7, is freely available from VCD vendors opposite Phsar Thmei and in several other areas of Phnom Penh.

The child sex VCDs—sporting Khmer-language titles such as “Luring Underage Child,” and “70-Year-Old Grandfather Rapes 9-Year-Old Girl,”—include scenes of bondage and sexual torture of very young girls.

Police reported Tuesday that one of the videos was shot in the notorious brothel village of Svay Pak on the outskirts of Phnom Penh by foreign pedophiles.

“Unicef is outraged that children in Cambodia are being used in pornography,” Marc Vergara, Uni­cef spokesman in Cambodia, said in an e-mailed statement.

“Any form of child pornography is simply not acceptable,” Vergara wrote.

Cambodia ratified the UN Con­vention on the Rights of the Child in 1992, which deals with the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

This, Vergara wrote, “makes it an obligation to protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.”

But, he added, there is no specific law in Cambodia penalizing child porn distribution, sale and display.

“Apart from a few government regulations and instructions on administration and control of film and video, there is presently no specific law penalizing child pornography in Cambodia.”

“Unicef calls on the public to be vigilant and to report incidents of child pornography and other forms of child abuse and exploitation,” he added.

Keo Thea, deputy director of the municipal anti-human trafficking police, who has led a slew of arrests of foreign pedophiles in recent months, said Tuesday that authorities have cracked down on child porn in the past. But the city’s VCD vendors keep re-stocking and re-selling, he said.

There is a sub-decree that can be used to fine offenders, he said, though he could not remember how large the fine was.

Keo Thea said Wednesday that he was out of town and unable to speak to a reporter.

Government Spokesman and Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith said he was also too busy to speak to a reporter.

Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak could not be contacted.

Phnom Penh Municipal Police Chief Touch Naruth hung up his phone on a reporter.

Sun Ro, deputy director of the Interior Ministry’s anti-human trafficking department, said he was unaware of Phnom Penh’s thriving child porn market and referred questions back to Keo Thea.

Phan Pheng, police chief of Daun Penh district—where the Phsar Thmei VCD vendors are located—said he was unaware of the area’s child porn business and referred questions to the Culture Ministry.

Culture Minister Prince Siso­wath Panara Sereyvuth could not be contacted for comment.

Mom Soth, director of the muni­cipal culture department, said he was also unaware of the child porn problem but said he would order Daun Penh district’s culture office to investigate.

Kek Galabru, founder of local rights group Licadho, said the trade sickened her.

“The government should really take this issue seriously. They should not allow the sale of these videos,” she said.

“Cambodia already has a bad reputation concerning trafficking and drugs and child labor and child prostitution,” she added.

On Wednesday, a VCD vendor on the west side of Phsar Thmei offered child porn unsolicited to potential customers from a plastic bag as a policeman patrolled nearby.

The female vendor, who would not give her name, said police have raided her shop on several occasions, but that this has not discouraged her from selling child sex films.

“I know it is illegal and I am afraid police will crack down, but I just sell in secret,” she said.

At the nearby Phnom Penh CD shop, where child porn was openly on sale Monday, staff said they were no longer selling the VCDs.

Several street stalls that offered child porn Monday and Tuesday said they had stopped selling it too, and declined to comment further.

At Olympic Market in Chamkar Mon district, a 52-year-old VCD vendor said she had previously been approached by child porn wholesalers, but had refused to stock their material.

“I have daughters, I don’t sell it,” she said.

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