No Longer a Pedophile’s Haven – A crackdown in Cambodia is catching Western men, but locals still mostly unhindered by Brendan Brady November 16, 2010 ….Following pressure from local activists as well as the United States, Australia, and some European countries, Cambodia launched a campaign in 2003 to fight its reputation as a pedophile’s carefree playground. By most accounts, the effort has achieved results. Now, articles about arrests of North American and European nationals pepper the pages of the local press. The crackdown and accompanying PR campaign helped lift Cambodia from the gutter of the U.S. human-trafficking watchlist, making the donor-dependent country eligible for a greater variety of direct aid.
“For Western pedophiles, Cambodia is no longer a safe haven,” says Samleang Seila, the head of the local child-protection group Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE). The change is evidenced by a rising number of arrests for “debauchery” and “indecent acts,” which grew from just eight in 2003 to 36 last year, according to APLE. The organization tracks sex tourists, gathers evidence against them and hands their cases over to local police. That’s when things can easily unravel: inexperienced and under-resourced, Cambodia’s police and judiciary are prone to corruption and poor implementation of the law. But despite its shaky foundation, the legal system has made strides, says Joerg Langelotz, of APLE. Case in point: the same judge in the town of Siem Reap who a year and a half ago declined to deliberate on a child-molestation charge because the alleged abuse didn’t exceed fondling has now agreed to hear the case. “There is less complacency and more commitment,” says Langelotz.