Canada an "international embarrassment," 146 Canadians have been charged overseas for sexually abusing children

At least 146 Canadians have been charged overseas for sexually abusing children, Benjamin Perrin, of the University of British Columbia, has found.And many more Canadians have likely bribed their way out of being charged in jurisdictions such as Thailand and Cambodia where children are easy prey for foreign pedophiles, he said.
The data on Canadians charged abroad between 1993 and 1997 was released to Perrin through a Freedom of Information request."To date, the Canadian policy has been to not aggressively, or even actively, enforce our own child-sex tourism law and that needs to change," Perrin said Tuesday.
"It's one of the most underenforced provisions of the Criminal Code," he said. "It was brought in to confront a serious transnational crime and this is very concerning."Canada's child-sex tourism law was enacted in 1997 and bolstered five years later to no longer require the foreign country where allegations of sexual abuse took place to consent to the charges.Donald Bakker is the only person in Canada to be convicted under the law after he pleaded guilty in 2005.
He received a 10-year sentence for 10 sexual assaults on girls between ages seven and 12 in Svay Pak, Cambodia, where he videotaped his horrific exploits.
But the investigation of Bakker began only after he was arrested in Vancouver for unrelated offences and police found video evidence of him abusing children.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Rick Greenwood, of the RCMP's National Child Exploitation Co-ordination Centre in Ottawa, said police forces around the world are overwhelmed with the number of child-sex cases in developing countries that include Costa Rica and India.
"Internationally, we've got to be set up better," Greenwood said of the Mounties' ability to share intelligence and properly train investigators."We are looking at that quite seriously.""What we're trying to do now is respond for the future so we're better aligned with our international partners," he said, referring to agencies such as Interpol, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security in the United States.According to the U.S. branch of EPCAT - End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes - Canada is among 44 countries with extraterritorial legislation that allows for the prosecution of its own citizens for sexual crimes committed in other jurisdictions.
But Canada does not conduct its own investigations of child sex abuse overseas. The foreign government must provide Canada with enough evidence to support charges.
Perrin called Canada an "international embarrassment," saying officials often don't ask for any evidence from other jurisdictions.
He said compared to countries like Australia and the United States, Canadian prosecutors are failing to lay charges against suspects in child-sex crimes abroad.

The Justice Department refused comment on the lack of charges in Canada despite several requests from The Canadian Press.

The most recent case of child-sex tourism involves a Quebec aid worker and another man who face multiple charges involving the sexual abuse of children in a Haitian orphanage.

Denis Rochefort, 59, and Armand Huard, 64, will make their next court appearance on April 11 in Quebec City.

Perrin said the case came to light only after the Haitian government contacted the United Nations, which informed the RCMP.

Often, he said, Canadians who see foreign children as easy targets use their Canadian passports as "get-out-of-jail free cards" by moving from country to country to escape detection and that the real number of sexual abuse case will never be known.
Perrin said part of the problem is that the RCMP's liaison officer program doesn't have enough resources in sex-tourism hot spots like Southeast Asia to send a clear message that Canada has a law prohibiting its citizens from exploiting children in developing countries that aren't able to protect themselves from pedophiles.
"The local police and judiciaries are often infant democracies and they are undermined when corruption from western tourists and businessmen allows them to escape charges."
The Justice Department's information on the number of Canadians charged in other countries with child-sex crimes does not include their identities, where in Canada they're from, where they committed their alleged offences or if they eluded other charges by paying officials.
"The very significant concern is that in countries where corruption is rampant - and in many developing countries that is unfortunately the case - Canadians are able to buy their way out of even being charged," Perrin said.
While the identities of suspected sex tourists who molest children overseas are rarely known, the case of Maple Ridge, B.C., resident Christopher Neil has made international headlines.
Neil, 32, was arrested in Thailand last October for allegedly abusing a nine-year-old boy after a worldwide manhunt when Interpol unscrambled his swirled digital images from the Internet.
As Neil awaits his next court date in Bangkok in June, another Canadian, 54-year-old Orville Mader of Abbotsford, B.C., is wanted on a warrant in Thailand for allegedly abusing at least three boys.
But while Neil sits in a Thai jail, Mader slipped back into Canada last year and was arrested at Vancouver International Airport.
He has been charged in Thailand, but the Thais have not formally asked Canada to return Mader and Canada has not charged him here.
Simon Buck, a Vancouver criminal lawyer and member of Beyond Borders, said the non-government group will seek intervener status in the case of Kenneth Klassen, the second Canadian to face child-sex tourism charges for allegedly exploiting girls as young as nine in various jurisdictions including Cambodia.
Klassen, 57, of Burnaby, B.C., is scheduled to go on trial in July.
Buck said prosecutors in every province need to approve more charges against alleged child molesters who conduct their business outside Canada's borders.
"It's probably the resources of the Crown in combination with the perception that they're difficult cases to prove and whether that's the correct perception I don't know because it hasn't been tested (at a trial)," he said.


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