Children's rights organisation Terre des Hommes has urged the Dutch police and the Public Prosecutors Office to play an active role in the prosecution of a 65-year-old Dutchman arrested in Cambodia last week.
The suspect was detained on charges of child sex abuse, possession of child pornography and complicity in child prostitution. Quite often paedophiles successfully escape justice by fleeing or bribing officials. Terre des Hommes says Dutch officials with their broader experience could assist their Cambodian colleagues in preparing a case against the Dutch suspect Cees C.
In the past few years, the Dutch government has focussed on a stricter prosecution of Dutch paedophiles who commit sex crimes abroad. At present, the Dutch authorities stay in contact with their foreign colleagues when a Dutch paedophile is arrested, but Terre des Hommes is arguing for closer cooperation in which Dutch police officers and public prosecutors provide active support to their foreign colleagues in the prosecution of suspected paedophiles.
The organisation says the Cambodian authorities would benefit from additional support to improve the quality of the police investigation and the resulting court case. Terre des Hommes also says that Dutch political attention for this case would reduce the chance of corruption and improve the quality of the court case. In addition, technical support from the Dutch police would help their Cambodian colleagues gather evidence against Cees C., including a child-friendly interrogation of the three children who are witnesses in the trial.
In the past, trials of paedophiles regularly ended in failure and many suspects were acquitted. In April 2008, two Dutch paedophiles fled Brazil just before they were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. They were able to leave the country because the Dutch embassy issued them with emergency travel documents. Terre des Hommes says the Dutch government can now show that it's serious about fighting sex tourism.
Terre des Hommes has been fighting sex tourism to poor countries for years. The organisation says that the arrest of suspect Cees C. shows that success in criminal investigations of child sex abuse is possible as a result of the support of, and close cooperation with, local organisations. A commitment on the part of the Cambodian police is vital in the fight against the sexual exploitation of children. Terre des Hommes provides training courses to the Cambodian police which are partly funded by the Dutch government. In these training courses, investigation methods, interrogation techniques and creating networks of contacts in local communities play an important role.