In April 2009, two British tourists were staying in Siem Reap, Cambodia, where they witnessed a situation that made them feel uncomfortable. An older western man was holding hands with four Khmer children at the Angkor Wat temples, all aged less than 15 years old.
The next morning, the concerned couple saw the same man in the hotel restaurant eating breakfast with the four boys. At this point, the couple realised it was a cause for concern, so they spoke to the hotel manager. He checked with his staff who confirmed this man had stayed in the same room as the four children. Sadly, at this point, they had already checked out. The couple called a national hotline they had seen advertised, but as it was Khmer New Year, it was not being answered. They themselves had a flight to catch back to the UK that afternoon, so they did not know where to go for help with so little time.
On arriving back to the UK, this very conscientious couple sent an email to the ChildSafe and M’Lop Tapang websites and received an immediate response. M’Lop Tapang, who implements the ChildSafe program in partnership with Friends International, referred this case to Actions Pour Les Enfants (APLE), a non-government organisation who worked with the police immediately to make further investigations. Within 24 hours, the international police confirmed that this suspect was a convicted child sex offender from the United States. On 18 May, the Cambodian national police with the assistance of the FBI and APLE arrested the suspect, who confessed to sexually abusing two of the boys, and the children were followed up by APLE social workers. The perpetrator has since been convicted of child abuse and is now serving time in the US.
Due to the quick wit of these two tourists, and their commitment to helping protect children in countries they visit, it’s likely many children have been protected from this dangerous child sex offender. We are proud that the ChildSafe program makes it easy and efficient for responsible travellers to report abuse and react in a safe and positive manner in ensuring children are protected in Cambodia. Thanks to the efficiency of these tourists, ChildSafe partners and Cambodian National Police, Cambodia is slowly but surely becoming a safer place, where everyone in this community can work together and play an active role in keeping children safe. These tourists are excellent role models for others and a great example of how ChildSafe tourism is a powerful tool in protecting children.
This story was provided by Maggie at M’Lop Tapang, with the verification and approval of the British couple.
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