World Vision Billboards Warn Abusers

A new billboard campaign warning foreign pedophiles that they will be jailed in their own countries if they abuse Cam­bodian children was launched Thursday by NGO World Vision.

“We want all foreigners to know, without doubt, that if they abuse children in Cambodia they will be monitored, they will be arrested, and they will go to jail,” World Vision country Director Talmage Payne said in a statement.

The billboards began appearing in Phnom Penh last month and soon will be seen in Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, said Anita Dodds, World Vision Cambodia communication manager.

The project is funded by the US Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

“We’d like people to go to jail in Cambodia and stay in jail for the duration of their sentence,” Dodds said. But, she added, “this is not happening at the moment.”

Dodds applauded the US for investigating its citizens suspected of pedophilia here before deporting them to face prosecution. Since 2003, three US nationals—Richard Arthur Schmidt, Michael Lewis Clark and Gary Evans Jackson—have been deported from Cambodia to face prosecution for child sex crimes in the US, according to US Embassy spokeswoman Heide Bronke.

Most embassies, however, are not doing enough to prevent their citizens from abusing Cambodian children, said Aarti Kapoor, legal adviser to the anti-trafficking NGO Afesip.“They take care of their nationals…. They protect their citizens,” she said, declining to name specific embassies. “It’s like having spoiled kids.”

Efforts by NGOs to combat Cambodia’s reputation as child sex tourism destination are also being hampered by the continued presence of disgraced British rock star Gary Glitter, Kapoor said.

Glitter, who served jail time in Britain for child pornography of­fenses, was deported in Decem­ber 2002, but has since returned and lives in Kandal province.

The best way to protect Cam­bodian children from foreigners accused of child sex crimes is to prevent them from entering, she said.

“Why not use him as example?”



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