Scare of convicted child abusers
Hans Guijt of Terre des Hommes is pleased with the sentence: "It's not just about Bas R., it’s also about sending a strong message to convicted child abusers. They now know they can no longer travel abroad and continue to commit crimes against children and go unpunished."
Bas R. is a notorious child abuser. He was convicted of abusing a twelve year old boy in the Netherlands when he worked as sailing instructor in 2004. Despite a ban, he started working with minors as a sailing instructor again in 2005. After a visit from Dutch tv-reporter Peter R. de Vries in 2007 he disappeared.
In 2009, R. reappeared in the Cambodian town of Siem Raep where he was running an orphanage. In 2011 he was again suspected of abusing children who live with him. However, he was not convicted because the children withdrew their statements. R. was acquitted due to lack of evidence. A second report of child abuse against him was also not pursued.
Help of Terre des Hommes
In 2013 Terre des Hommes and partner organization APLE started to help with the collecting of evidence. In 2014 a Dutch lawyer brought criminal proceedings against R. in The Netherlands on behalf of two Cambodian boys. From that moment the Dutch and Cambodian authorities started to cooperate to bring the Dutchman to court. Bas R. was arrested again, also due to the tireless and committed work done by partnerorganisation APLE. Now, half a year later, the Dutchman was finally convicted.
In a report published in 2007 Terre des hommes had already warned that sex offenders can too easily move to countries where the legal system is weak. Due to the massive poverty and a lack of protection, children are at risk to become victims of child sex tourists. Research of Terre des Hommes in 2013 also showed that police and judicial authorities in countries where child sex tourism occurs have very little interest in solving these cases. The condemnation of Bas R however shows that the cooperation between Dutch and Cambodian authorities has improved.
Terre des Hommes advocates monitoring of the travel patterns of convicted sex offenders. If it appears that someone often travels to countries where child sex tourism flourishes, he or she may be subject to a travel restriction through the courts. Countries are then informed about the arrival of that person, so they can deny them access to the country.
Child sex tourism is a complex problem, which requires an integrated approach. Terre des Hommes provides shelter to victims, works on poverty reduction by offering vocational education, trains police officers, identified suspects, offers legal support to children and informs parents about the harmful effects of child sexual abuse.