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Community policing to protect children from sexual exploitation



Bangkok (Thailand), 14 November 2012
- UNODC and four countries in the Greater Mekong are ramping up efforts to make community policing a tool to fight child sexual exploitation.

During 13-14 November, specialists in community policing delivered training to approximately 250 people - mostly Thai community policing officers and local community leaders - in Bangkok.

Representatives from Cambodia and Viet Nam were also present.

Kicking off the training, Police Lieutenant General Pongpat Chayapan, Commissioner of the Thai Central Investigation Bureau, spoke about the need for the police officers - drawn from almost all provinces in Thailand - to connect with the community.



Mr. Gary Lewis, UNODC's Regional Representative, urged the officers present to "create a protective environment for our children. This minimizes the risk that they will be exploited or abused."

"The Police are a key element in building this protective environment," said Mr. Lewis, "but the Police cannot work in isolation. They need the support of the community."



Participants included 120 Thai Community Policing Officers, 80 Thai Community Leaders and a number of other individuals and organizations including police from Cambodia and Viet Nam. The Commanders of the Specialist Divisions of the Thai Central Investigation Bureau were also present.

The initiative was designed under Project Childhood and will deliver training - which has been jointly developed by the Royal Thai Police, UNODC and World Vision. The agenda covers child protection, children's rights and community strength.

In delivering the training agenda, UNODC and the Royal Thai Police received support from World Vision, Australian Federal Police, UNICEF, Step Ahead, Friends International and ChildLine.


(Click to see large image)

Background:

Project Childhood is a $7.5 million Australian AID (AusAID)-funded initiative to combat the sexual exploitation of children - mainly in the travel and tourism sectors - in the Greater Mekong sub-region. The project focuses on Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam and builds on Australia's long-term support for programs that better protect children and prevent their abuse. Project Childhood is being implemented in two complementary pillars - the Protection Pillar, a partnership between UNODC and INTERPOL, and the Prevention Pillar, implemented by World Vision.

Project Childhood (Protection Pillar) aims to enhance law enforcement capacity for national and transnational action to identify and effectively act upon travelling child-sex offenders in the Mekong region. To achieve these objectives in Cambodia, UNODC and Project Childhood (Protection Pillar) work closely with the Cambodia Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice and other stakeholders.