Project WATCH

Project WATCH_photo Corbino terre des hommes

Too often sex offenders who assault children in Asia walk away without prosecution. Local police forces often do not have the capacity to investigate these cases and collecting evidence can be very hard. This is why Terre des Hommes trains private detectives to track down Western and local child sex offenders, so that children can grow up in a safer environment. This approach is based on the succesfull method of projectpartner APLE in Cambodia, Indonesia, The Philippines, India and Nepal. This project, named Project WATCH (Working Actively Together for Children), is supported by the Nationale Postcode Loterij.

Background

Indonesia, The Philippines, India and Nepal have a reputation as emerging child sex tourist hot spots as a result of cheap flights and easy access to internet. However, too often perpetrators walk away without prosecution. 

In Cambodia the use of private investigators to stop child sex toursim has been very succesfull in the last few years. Local Terre des Hommes partner APLE (Action Pour Les Enfants) investigates around 150 tips every year. Many of these tips lead to arrests and a few even lead to convictions. Based on the succesfull method of APLE Terre des Hommes also trains private detectives in Indonesia, The Philippines, India and Nepal.

 

Goals

Project WATCH (Working Actively Together for CHildren ‘not on our watch') is a Terre des Hommes initiative that tracks down and prosecutes child sex offenders in Indonesia, The Philippines, India and Nepal to make sure that children can grow up in a safer environment. Project 'WATCH' summary:

  • Install private detective teams, mainly in popular tourist areas
  • Track down and prosecute more perpetrators
  • Encourage victims to report to the police
  • Offer help and protection for victims
  • Train police officers
  • Contact media and Interpol

What we do

With support of Cambodian projectpartner APLE Terre des Hommes trains local private detectives in Indonesia, The Philippines, India and Nepal to track down child sex offenders, collect evidence and share it with the local police.  

A Project WATCH team consists of two detectives, a lawyer and a social worker. The detectives observe suspicious individuals for a longer period of time. If sufficient evidence is collected it will be shared with the police. Together with the victims their families and the Project WATCH teammembers the lawyer will report to the police. If the case is brought to court the lawyer will offer legal assistance to the child victims.

During the lawsuit other members of the team stay in touch with the media. The authorities usually give priority to sexual offences involving minors if they get media attention. In addition to the lawyer, the social worker offers protection and support to the child victims. In some cases victims are threatened by the perpetrator, or friends or relatives of the perpetrator. If necessary, the team will place the child in a safe and protected shelter. 

 

Results

Together, the Project WATCH teams in Indonesia, The Philippines, India and Nepal managed to accomplish 28 arrests of child sex offenders between april 2014 and march 2015. Many of these offenders were Western tourists  with a record of sexual assault of children. In seven cases so far the evidence of the Project WATCH team has lead to convictions.  157 children involved were given shelter and support to build up a new future.