Project Childhood (Protection Pillar) and Royal Thai Police develop training course to investigate sexual exploitation of children

Bangkok (Thailand), 22 August 2012
- With help from UNODC and INTERPOL, Thai law enforcement officials have developed an outline for an evidence-based training programme that will provide frontline and specialist law enforcement officials with the skills and attitude needed to conduct effective child-centred investigations of cases involving the sexual exploitation of children.

After final course curriculum approval by the Royal Thai Police, the Thai Police Academy and the Police Education Bureau in December 2012, the training programme will begin to be taught in Thai Police training institutions in 2013. The course material will be written up by Thai national experts, together with UNODC and INTERPOL, and key stakeholders.

The training course outline was developed by a UNODC-INTERPOL Project Childhood (Protection Pillar) technical working group that met in May and July 2012. The meetings included experts from the Royal Thai Police, the Department of Special Investigations, the Thai Health and Social Ministries, the Australian Federal Police, INTERPOL, UNODC, UNICEF, Fight Against Child Exploitation (FACE), Childline, World Vision (Project Childhood Prevention Pillar partner), and the Asia Regional Trafficking in Persons Transition Project (ARTIP). The course work will emphasize putting children first in any police investigations of sexual exploitation of children by travelling child sex offenders.

"A positive attitude towards the child is important," noted Pol. Lt. Col. Kongpiti Onmak, Associate Professor on the Women Children and Families course at the Royal Police Cadet Academy. "As law enforcement officials, police need to know about the rights of the child, beginning with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child."

Using expertise drawn from police officers, health officials and child protection agencies, the Thai Police Academy curriculum will offer a three-day course for frontline officers and a five-day course for specialist officers.

Courses for front line officers will teach them about child sexual exploitation and its victims, how to collect and preserve evidence in child sexual exploitation cases, and frontline first response duties. Specialist courses, on the other hand, will include the legal framework and how to investigate child sexual exploitation; the victims in child sexual exploitation; profiles of child sex offenders; evidence and cooperation in investigating child sexual exploitation.

Trafficking in persons (TIP) - and the sexual exploitation of children by travellers - is a significant concern throughout Southeast Asia. While law enforcement efforts to combat this continue to increase across the region, convictions remain relatively few.

In response to this, and to better protect children by strengthening law enforcement responses to the sexual exploitation of children, particularly by travelling child sex offenders, UNODC has partnered with INTERPOL to implement the Project Childhood Protection Pillar, which supports the training of law enforcement officers to better equip them to identify and counter child sexual exploitation in travel and tourism and to bring travelling child sex offenders to justice.

As part of Protection Pillar activities, UNODC offers technical assistance activities to bolster legislative frameworks and law enforcement investigations against the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism. INTERPOL supports specialized law enforcement activities and the pooling of international and regional experience to directly target travelling child sex offenders in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

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.