Cablegate: Cambodia: Open to "International Megan's Law,"

DE RUEHPF #0772/01 2560546
P 120546Z SEP 08




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Summary: From September 2-5 a six-member U.S.
House Committee on Foreign Affairs Staff Delegation met with
Cambodian government officials, immigration and police
contacts, and NGO representatives during a fact-finding visit
to Cambodia. The visit was prompted by the introduction of a
new bill that would require the USG to notify travel
destination countries when the most dangerous Amcit
pedophiles plan to travel to those countries. News of the
bill, known as "International Megan's Law," was welcomed by
Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng who stated that if the law is
passed, "it would be beneficial for law enforcement."
Immigration and police officials stated that the country's
computerized Interpol or other computer systems might be
possible systems with which a new notification system could
integrate when and if it comes time to establish such a
system. During their meetings with the StaffDel, DPM Sar
Kheng, Minister of Women's Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi, and
Anti-TIP National Task Force Chair You Ay acknowledged recent
TIP challenges at the Sihanoukville and Appeals Courts,
including the July release of a Russian pedophile by the
Sihanoukville Court, and the recent Appeals Court sentence to
reduce the charges and sentence of a pedophile originally
convicted in 2006. End Summary.

Cambodia Welcomes "International Megan's Law" Bill
--------------------------------------------- -----

2. (SBU) A six-member Staff Delegation led by House Foreign
Affairs Committee Deputy Chief Counsel Kristin Wells visited
Cambodia September 2-5 to research how a bill, if passed into
law, might be implemented in Cambodia. The bill, H.R. 5722,
was introduced by Congressperson Chris Smith of New Jersey,
and is dubbed the "International Megan's Law" as it is
conceptually related to a domestic "Megan's Law" requiring
convicted sex offenders to register in their home states.
Each state must then make public the convicted sex offender
registry which includes home address information. The
International Megan's Law, if passed, would require convicted
sex offenders to provide three weeks advance notice to the
USG when they plan to travel to a foreign country. The USG
would then be required to provide the travel and identity
information of those convicted sex offenders determined to be
"high risk" to the destination country. Both the domestic
and international versions of Megan's Law adopt the concept
of providing information about a sex offender's presence in
the community for the purpose of protecting children by
providing information to the appropriate law enforcement
officials. The original Megan's Law was adopted in the state
of New Jersey after 7-year-old Megan Kanka was abducted,
sexually assaulted, and murdered by a previously convicted
sex offender who was living across the street unbeknownst to
Megan and her family.

3. (SBU) Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng, Minister of
Women's Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi, and National Task Force
(NTF) Chair You Ay welcomed news of a bill that might result
in the USG providing the Cambodian government more
information about convicted sex offenders who intend to
travel to Cambodia. Sar Kheng stated that if the bill is
passed into law, notification of Amcit convicted sex
offenders traveling to Cambodia would be beneficial for law
enforcement officials in conducting anti-TIP work. He stated
that if the RGC received information on convicted sex
offenders in advance, police would be better prepared to deal
with cases.

Sar Kheng: Child Sex Offenders Would Be Monitored
--------------------------------------------- -----

4. (SBU) For an individual who has not committed a crime in
Cambodia, Sar Kheng stated that Cambodia would be obliged to
permit the individual entry, but that a traveler who was
previously convicted in the U.S. of a serious child sex abuse
crime would likely be monitored by the police. He also made
the point that the individuals targeted by this draft
legislation likely would not be happy to know that their
personal information is being provided to the RGC but said it
would be a possible partial solution to combating one aspect
of trafficking in persons. Both Sar Kheng and Ing Kantha
Phavi stated that the notification information would likely
have to go through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ing
Kantha Phavi said the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MOWA) and
the NTF could play a watchdog role. Sar Kheng stated that
the Ministry of Interior (MOI) would be the direct users of

PHNOM PENH 00000772 002 OF 003

the information and the implementers if any action were to be
taken against travelers identified through the International
Megan's Law.

Challenges Noted

5. (SBU) The StaffDel acknowledged during several meetings
with RGC and NGO representatives that the introduction of the
International Megan's Law bill, and, depending on its
passage, the ensuing development of a notification system
poses challenges. It was recognized that not all convicted
sex offenders registered in the U.S. under the domestic
Megan's Law pose a threat to the wellbeing of children, and
may not travel overseas at all, or commit such offenses
abroad. DPM Sar Kheng agreed that it could be useful for the
U.S. to conduct a risk assessment of registered sex offenders
based on the types of crimes an offender committed to help
determine whether a sex offender traveling to Cambodia is a
possible threat to children. (Note: There is currently no
U.S. risk assessment of registered sex offenders. End Note.)

Integrating a Notification System

6. (SBU) To address another possible challenge, the StaffDel
explored the Cambodian government's capacity to receive
information about Amcit convicted sex offenders traveling to
Cambodia. During meetings with the Cambodian National
Central Bureau of Interpol Head Major General Keo Vannthan
and Immigration Department Director Major General Thong Lim,
both under the MOI, the StaffDel heard that Interpol has the
ability to notify immigration officials at each of Cambodia's
20 points of entry about information regarding incoming
travelers. Thong Lim stated that four of Cambodia's points
of entry, including international airports in Phnom Penh and
Siem Reap, use a computerized name check system that
currently does not contain information on TIP crimes. For
foreign criminals who have been previously convicted in
Cambodia, the MOI maintains a hardcopy blacklist of perhaps
several hundred names that is periodically updated and sent
to points of entry. Thong Lim and Keo Vannthan both stated
that if their departments received information that an Amcit
convicted sex offender is traveling to Cambodia, they would
send the information to Cambodian National Police
Commissioner General Hok Lundy for a decision on how to
handle the case. Thong Lim suggested that a decision might
be made to monitor the individual. (Note: RGC contacts did
not elaborate on how law enforcement or other officials would
monitor individuals. However, some police have been involved
with monitoring of suspected child sex abusers during past
investigations, usually together with NGOs. End note.)
Thong Lim stated that immigration officials would require
biodata on the traveler, as well as information on the nature
of the crime committed and when it occurred.

RGC Acknowledges Recent Setbacks at the Courts
--------------------------------------------- -

7. (SBU) During meetings with DPM Sar Kheng, NTF Chair You
Ay, and Deputy Commissioner General of Police Lieutenant
General Neth Saveoun, the RGC officials raised the recent
problematic Sihanoukville Court decision to release on
probation a convicted child sex abuser, Russian national
Nikita Belov (Refs A and B). For the first time, Sar Kheng
asserted that there may have been "irregularities" in the
Belov court case and reaffirmed his past statements that he
has instructed the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) to investigate
the specifics of the case. Separately, MOJ Under Secretary
of State Ith Rady told Emboff that his review of the case
determined that the Sihanoukville judge did not understand
that the perpetrator could be charged with a more serious
crime. One of the minor victims is reported to have
testified to being forced to perform oral sex on Belov.
However, the court chose to charge Belov with the misdemeanor
charge of "Indecent Acts with a Minor" instead of the felony
of "Sexual Acts with a Minor." The misdemeanor charge
allowed the judge to make the decision to release the
offender on probation.

8. (SBU) Ith Rady also updated Emboffs on two recent
problematic Appeals Court cases, the first involving a
Belgian national, Philippe Dessart, who was convicted of
debauchery and sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2006, the
second involving a wealthy Russian pedophile, Alexander
Trofimov, who was arrested in October 2007 (Ref C). On
August 26, the Appeals Court upheld Dessart's 2006 conviction
but changed the charge against him to "indecent acts against

PHNOM PENH 00000772 003 OF 003

a minor" under the new anti-TIP law and reduced his prison
sentence to the maximum allowable prison term for indecent
acts: three years. Ith Rady reported that the Cambodian
Embassy in Belgium sent a letter to the MOJ with information
on a previous child sex abuse conviction of Dessart in
Belgium. This information might help determine if there
should be a heavier punishment for the perpetrator, as the
court prosecutor is now appealing the Appeals Court decision
to the Supreme Court. The prosecutor is looking at the
possibility of the court being able to apply a provision of
the law stating that, "A person who repeatedly commits any
offense (of indecent acts against a minor) shall be punished
with double the prison punishment." In the second case,
Alexander Trofimov appeared for his Appeals Court trial on
August 22; however, the Appeals Court postponed the trial
because the court heard from Trofimov's lawyer that Trofimov
was too sick to come to the court. A new trial date is set
for September 24.

Details About Staff Delegation Wells

9. (U) In addition to U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee
Deputy Chief Counsel Kristin Wells, the StaffDel included
Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Minority Staff
Director Sheri Rickert, who authored the "International
Megan's Law" bill; Foreign Affairs Committee Chief Counsel
for the Minority Doug Anderson; House Judiciary Committee
Counsel Lou DeBaca; Foreign Affairs Committee Press Assistant
David Barnes; and Foreign Affairs Committee Administrative
Director Melissa Adamson. Several of the StaffDel members
made a stop in Long Beach, California to meet with ICE and
CBP officials there, after which the StaffDel conducted a
four-day fact-finding visit to Thailand. ICE Senior Special
Agent Hung Nguyen accompanied the group to Cambodia from his
regional office in Bangkok.


10. (SBU) News of the introduction of the "International
Megan's Law" bill is a welcome development for the RGC and
the Embassy. Cambodia is fighting its history as a prime
destination for child sex predators but given its existing
reputation, an effort to track or stop American convicted sex
offenders who intend to travel to Cambodia will be a helpful
tool for Cambodia to fight this scourge. It may also serve
to decrease the number of ACS cases handled by our Consular
Section which is currently providing consular services to two
Amcits (Thomas Wayne Rapanos arrested March 4 and Richard
David Mitchell arrested August 28) who were charged with
child sex abuses in 2008. However, if the International
Megan's Law is passed, Cambodia's capacity to use
notification information on an incoming convicted sex
offender to monitor individuals and to fight child sex abuse
is uncertain. We've seen that the RGC can accomplish a great
deal but successful use of police resources to monitor and
investigate sexual expoitation have in the past typically
required NGO involvement.

11. This cable has been cleared by U.S. House Foreign
Affairs Committee Deputy Chief Counsel Kristin Wells and
Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Minority Staff
Director Sheri Rickert.

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