MISSISSAUGA, ON, Sept. 9, 2011 /CNW/ - International aid agency World
Vision welcomed the conviction of 51-year-old Michael Julian Leach of
London, England, found guilty of paying for sex with three underage
girls in Cambodia, but warns child sex tourism around the world
Leach was arrested in Phnom Penh in September 2010 after the guest house
he was staying in was raided. He will now serve 12 years in a Cambodian
jail, before being deported back to the UK. World Vision has provided
counseling, medical and recovery support for Leach's victims in
Cambodia, and warns there are still too many opportunities for
travelling sex offenders to commit crimes against children.
"This crime is horrendous. While Leach's conviction and 12-year sentence
are a triumph for Cambodian and British authorities who collaborated to
bring Leach to trial, the three children he abused will carry their
trauma and scars for life and many more are vulnerable," said Dave
Toycen, president of World Vision Canada.
"I've met with children at World Vision's Cambodia Trauma Recovery
Centre and their stories are heartbreaking. Their childhoods have been
stolen, they are often ostracized by family and communities and they've
suffered unimaginable abuse," says Toycen. "We would never tolerate
this happening to our own children, so we must not tolerate it
happening in Cambodia and other countries where extreme poverty and
lack of protection makes children easy prey."
"Every country—including Canada—must be rigorous in bringing these
offenders to justice by partnering with local authorities in countries
like Cambodia where travelling sex offenders target children," says
Canada and travelling child sex offenders
In 1997 the Canadian Criminal Code was amended so travelling child sex
offenders can be prosecuted in Canada for crimes committed abroad.
According to an access to information request in 2008, 146 Canadians
were charged with child sex offences overseas from 1993-2007. However,
the real figure is likely much higher as many cases of Canadians
sexually abusing children abroad were never detected.
Commercial sexual exploitation of children has two sides which fuel this
gross violation of children's rights: the supply side and the demand
side. Canadians who purchase sex from children—boys and girls under the
age of 18—are fueling this problem by contributing to the demand for
sex with children.
With the full support of World Vision and other anti-trafficking
organizations, Canada passed Bill C-268 in June 2010, which imposes
minimum sentences for child traffickers.
World Vision's child protection work in Cambodia
World Vision began outreach to Cambodian street children in the
mid-1990s. Staff quickly saw the need to shield children from sexual
exploitation and help abused children recover.
World Vision opened the Cambodia Trauma Recovery Centre in Phnom Penh to
support girls who have been sexually abused, raped or trafficked. The
centre houses about 60 girls who stay for six to 12 months in the
concealed compound where they receive counseling, health care, basic
education and vocational training.
World Vision works with the tourism industry to better protect children
from sexual abuse by locals and foreign nationals. It also works with
law enforcement agencies and courts to increase reporting of sexual
abuse and see through successful prosecutions, such as that of Michael
World Vision also works globally to prevent children being targeted by
travelling sex offenders, through education and creating other ways for
them and their family to make a living.
World Vision has been engaged in preventing and mitigating the effects
of the commercial sexual exploitation of children overseas for more
than a decade by addressing both the supply and demand side of this
World Vision is asking Canadians to:
Take responsibility for the impact of their own travel by researching
hotels and travel companies to ensure codes of conduct have been signed
to protect children.
Report the exploitation of children - labour, sexual or trafficking -
that they witness while abroad (cybertip.ca).
Deter any travel companions from engaging in such behaviours.
World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy
organization dedicated to working with children, families and
communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all
people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. Visit our
News Centre worldvision.ca
SOURCE World Vision Canada
For further information:
Tiffany Baggetta-tel. 416-305-9612, Tiffany_Baggetta@worldvision.ca