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Action taken to combat child sex tourism

Update: June, 30/2012 - 09:20

HA NOI — Viet Nam has shown its determination to crack down on child sex tourism by improving its related legislative framework and capacity.

Viet Nam's Ministry of Public Security has approved a project "Strengthening law enforcement capacity in national and international actions to identify and respond to child sex tourism in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta – Protection Pillar". A project management board led by Colonel Ho Sy Tien, Acting Director of the Criminal Police Department was officially introduced yesterday.

Despite the positive impacts of the thriving tourism industry, Viet Nam faces an increasingly serious child sex tourism problem.

According to report of the Criminal Police Department, between 2009 and 2011 there were 4353 cases of crimes committed against children, involving 5370 offenders and 4688 child victims. Sexual crimes against children accounted for 61 per cent.

According to US Department's Trafficking in Person Report 2012, Viet Nam is a destination for child sex tourism with perpetrators reportedly coming from Japan, South Korea, mainland China, Taiwan, the UK, Australia, Europe, and the United States.

However, data on child sex crimes has not been properly updated or analysed, especially offences committed by travelling offenders – either Vietnamese or foreigners.

The Vietnamese Government attaches great importance to child protection through laws, action plans and projects on child care, said major general Tran Trong Luong, Deputy General Director of Public Security Ministry's General Department on Combating Crimes.

The multi-sector cooperation was expected to establish a strong network with international support to respond to sexual abuse against children in Viet Nam, he said.

This legal strengthening project is part of a regional project by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) and Interpol and World Vision called "Targeting childhood to combat the sexual exploitation of children, particularly in tourism sector in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Viet Nam."

The 4-year project worth US$7.5 million funded by Australia AID and launched last year consists of two pillars on protection and prevention. Accordingly, UNODC and the Ministry of Justice shall provide technical assistance to law enforcement agencies to review and strengthen legislative frameworks to ensure domestic frameworks meet international standards in this field, said Project co-ordinator Margaret Akullo.

Moreover, the Protection Pillar also targeted to offer training and capacity building activities for police officers to better identify, arrest and prosecute offences related to sexual abuse of children by travelling offenders, she said.

Chris Batt, UNODC advisor Mekong Region, Officer in Charge UNODC Viet Nam Country Office said that poverty, lack of sustainable livelihoods and gender inequality were among factors that contributed to the boom of "sex-tourism" involving minors in Viet Nam and Mekong region.

"Law enforcement responses against offenders must become an important element in halting and reserving the trend of abuse," he said. — VNS

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