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Cambodia strengthens legal framework against child sex tourism

Phnom Penh (Cambodia), 10 July 2017 - A consultative workshop has been held in Phnom Penh to enhance the legal framework to protect children from sex tourism in Cambodia. Coorganised by the Ministry of Justice of Cambodia and UNODC as a part of a project enhancing the capacity of law enforcement officials in combating travelling child sex offenders in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Viet Nam (Project Childhood II), the workshop was presided over by H.E. Mr. Ang Vong Vathana, Minister of Justice of Cambodia.

Sexual exploitation of children is an intensely complex issue, and in Cambodia and greater Southeast Asia, child sexual exploitation has been closely linked to the ever-growing regional and international tourism industry. The workshop was part of efforts to protect by addressing current legal gaps and exploring legislative reform, and included the presentation of the progress of a new updated report on existing gaps.

"The Royal Government of Cambodia considers tourism a priority area among the key priority areas in economic and social development in which tourism industries importantly contribute to the domestic revenue and create many job opportunities for people," stated Minister Vathana. "However, tourism also brings negative effects to our society, one of which is child sex tourism. We are working to draft a Cybercrime Law in order to further protect children against sex tourism by criminalising simple possession of child pornography in an electronic form."

Participants also discussed recent development of legal framework as well as remaining legal issues to be further considered such as criminalisation of possession of child pornography in non-digital form for non-distribution purpose, use of child pornography in private places, grooming and specific measures for child protection in the criminal justice process.

"Cambodia ratified and approved almost all major international instruments related to prevention and criminalisation of sexual exploitation against children, and thus, we are obliged to prepare our domestic legal framework in conformity with all those instruments," stated H.E. Chan Sotheavy, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Justice. "When finalised and published, this report will not only contribute to our further examination of legislative tasks, but also greatly help those involved in law enforcement to understand the overall picture of the legal framework against sex tourism," she added.

Noriko Shibata, UNODC Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer, explained the future plan of action: "After today's discussion, we will finalise the report and publish it in September this year. This report is a part of the achievements of UNODC's project on combating sexual exploitation of children. In addition, UNODC and the project countries have oraganised Regional Legal Research Group Meeting to exchange information every year since 2012. This year, Cambodia will be the host country and the meeting will be held in Siem Reap, Cambodia in September."

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