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Press releases archive

 

British offender charged with child sexual abuse in Cambodia

12 November 2013

CambodiaA British national, with previous convictions in the UK for the production of child abuse images, has been charged with sexual abuse of children by a Municipal Court in Cambodia, ECPAT UK has learned.

According to The Cambodia Daily, Richard Fruin was charged on 30 October by the Phnom Penh Municipal Court with sexual abuse of two brothers, aged 8 and 11. Both children testified during the proceedings to being molested by Fruin.

ECPAT UK, a leading children’s rights charity, has expressed dismay at the failure once again to prevent a convicted child sex abuser from leaving the country to prey on vulnerable children.

Fruin is not a first time offender. In 2005, he was charged by UK authorities with producing images of child abuse but fled the country while on bail. He was  rearrested and served a one-year prison sentence on his return to the UK in 2012, after having spent seven years travelling through Africa, South East Asia and the Middle East. Upon release, Fruin evaded authorities to travel to Cambodia, where he currently faces charges of child sexual abuse.

The case has magnified ECPAT UK concerns about the efficacy of existing legislation to restrict the movement of persons who have been convicted of child sexual abuse in the past. In a 2013 review of  the Sexual Offences Act 2003, ECPAT UK research found that the law routinely fails to prevent the sexual abuse of vulnerable children abroad by British nationals.

Despite the introduction of the International Child Protection Certificate (ICPC) in Cambodia in February this year by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), very little use is being made of this background checking mechanism. The ICPC procedure is specifically designed with the aim of preventing convicted child sex offenders in the UK from travelling abroad and gaining access to children through teaching or voluntary work.

Local NGO Action Pour Les Enfants (APLE) has said that so far they have information of only one institution making an application under this procedure. The organisation further raised concerns regarding the effectiveness of the procedure, stating that child sex abusers would avoid institutions that required certificates, and would target the smaller institutions with more lax hiring mechanisms.

Whilst supporting the ICPC in principle as a useful tool in combating abuse of children abroad by known sex offenders, ECPAT UK has said that the mechanism is limiting in its reach. Under the certificate, offenders who do not have any prior convictions may evade detection and commit offences in other countries. Further, the mechanism is dependent on institutions abroad making use of the procedure, which often does not happen, particularly in smaller organisations that are targeted by sex offenders seeking access to children.

Bharti Patel, CEO, ECPAT UK, said:”There is an urgent need for stronger checks to be put in place in the UK before known sex offenders and those that may be a risk to children abroad are permitted to leave the UK.

We welcome the amendments to the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill, tightening the law on sex offenders in the UK and those planning to travel abroad, giving police greater powers to place a range of restrictions on individuals, including the limiting of internet use, contact with children under 16 and restricting travel abroad. No doubt these can help, provided they are enforced and supported by improved cooperation and greater information sharing between law enforcement in the UK and abroad so that known offenders do not go undetected." 

About ECPAT UK

ECPAT UK has been campaigning for 20 years to protect children everywhere from child trafficking, as well as child sexual exploitation in travel and tourism. 

About amendments to the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill

ECPAT UK supported Nicola Blackwood MP's Childhood Lost campaign to amend the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill to introduce new prevention powers for police to put a stop to the sexual exploitation of children. For more information about the amendment and the campaign, visit http://www.childhoodlost.co.uk 

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