INDEPENDENT NEWS

Cablegate: Rso/Ice/Ngo Meetings On Combatting Crimes Against

Published: Tue 3 Oct 2006 10:05 AM
VZCZCXRO7717
PP RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHPF #1802 2761005
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031005Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7410
INFO RUEHZS/ASEAN COLLECTIVE
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 1836
UNCLAS PHNOM PENH 001802
SIPDIS
SIPDIS
FOR G/TIP, EAP/MLS and EAP/RSP, DS/IP/EAP, DS/ICI/CIL, BANGKOK FOR
ICE
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL KWMN CB ASEC
SUBJECT: RSO/ICE/NGO MEETINGS ON COMBATTING CRIMES AGAINST
CHILDREN.
1. Summary. On September 26, the Regional Security Office (RSO)
and the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) Bangkok Attachs of
the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) organized a meeting with
NGOs to discuss the challenges facing NGOs in combating sex crimes
against children. The RSO encouraged the NGOs to inform the Mission
of any leads they may have on crimes committed by American citizens
against children. ICE officers briefed participants of ICE
responsibilities, their challenges, and expectations. End Summary.
Mission Seeks Greater NGO Cooperation
-------------------------------------
2. In coordination with Bangkok/ICE, the RSO organized and
sponsored a meeting with twenty representatives from nine different
NGOs to discuss our common goal of fighting sexual abuse of children
in Cambodia. RSO John Davis opened the meeting by thanking the NGOs
for their attendance. He said that child sexual abuse is an issue
that touches both the NGO community and the Embassy, and encouraged
the NGOs to work with the Mission and DHS ICE.
3. Ann Hurst, ICE Attach based in Bangkok, briefed participants
about DHS ICE, the PROTECT Act and the challenges in conducting
investigations of sex crimes against children. She said that ICE
would like to set up an ICE office in Cambodia in the future, but
funding constraints currently preclude this. Hurst underscored the
strong Bangkok-Phnom Penh cooperation, without which ICE would not
have been as successful in their work to date.
4. Hurst also touched on the challenges that confront both the NGOs
and the Mission, including government corruption and weakness in the
implementation of Cambodian laws. She also encouraged the NGOs to
consider the issue of child pornography in their future programs to
combat child sexual exploitation. Hurst mentioned that the
perpetrators of these crimes are turning to the Internet as another
avenue of access to underage children. She also stated the
perpetrators will typically document their activity through
photographs or video, and use the internet to distribute the
material. While arresting perpetrators is desirable, ICE added that
the ultimate goal is to have a successful prosecution against those
perpetrators. Therefore, evidence is very important and ICE
encouraged the NGOs to work with the police to secure physical
evidence during the arrest for eventual handover to ICE agents.
5. Hurst commented on the excellent cooperation ICE and the Mission
have received from the Cambodian government involving Protect Act
cases. While not denying that the RGC has much to do to improve the
government's capacity to handle such crimes, she said that RGC
cooperation has been indispensable for successful operations. She
noted that there are good individuals within the RGC who are
committed and willing to make the changes; more training and support
is needed from donors.
NGOs: Security Issues Paramount
--------------------------------
6. The NGOs expressed concern over security issues -- for the
victims as well as for NGO staff. Action Pour Les Enfants asked
whether there exist any mechanisms to ensure the safety of their
staff related to the investigation. World Vision was concerned with
traumatizing child victims of sexual abuse during the legal process
by having them repeat their ordeals and facing the perpetrators who
abused them. Overall, victim and witness protection has been the
main challenge for the NGO workers.
7. Comment: While the Embassy and Bangkok/ICE office have
developed good relations with individual NGOs working on sexual
abuse of children, this meeting was the first attempt to better
coordinate efforts among all the NGOs as well as USG officials. The
NGOs appreciated the information they received, especially the
guidance as to what to do and who to contact for intervention in the
course of their own work. End Comment.
CAMPBELL
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