Thailand and Australia unite in fight against child sexual exploitation

Picture courtesy of Eakkapop Thongtub.

Angela Macdonald, the Australian Ambassador to Thailand, and Deputy Chief of the Royal Thai Police Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn joined forces in Phuket yesterday to participate in the Countering Child Sexual Exploitation Regional Dialogue Thailand 2023.

The dialogue, taking place at the SAii Laguna Phuket resort in Cherng Talay, brings together law enforcement officials and NGO representatives from nine nations, including Thailand, Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam.

Big Joke, who is also the Director of the Police Crime Suppression Division, emphasised that the primary focus of the dialogue is to strengthen regional cooperation and cross-border collaboration in the fight against child sexual abuse and other forms of child exploitation.

The collaboration involves the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and law enforcement agencies across Southeast Asia, intending to increase expertise in various fields and develop regional capacity to combat child sexual abuse effectively.

Helen Schneider, Commander of the Australian Federal Police and of the AFP’s Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation and Human Exploitation, is also among those attending the event, which started yesterday and continues until Friday.

The Royal Thai Police and the Australian Federal Police have a long history of collaboration, as highlighted by Surachate. He pointed out their joint efforts in various areas, such as Operation Taskforce Storm and the creation of a network to prevent and suppress transnational crime, reported The Phuket News.

Operation Taskforce Storm

In the first three quarters of 2023, the Royal Thai Police investigated 411 cases of child abuse, a decrease from 482 cases in the same period the previous year. The majority of arrests were for possession of child pornography (164 cases), followed by sexual abuse (154 cases) and human trafficking (75 cases). The latter figure represents the highest number of human trafficking cases in nine years.

The Royal Thai Police’s ‘D.A.R.E 2 C.A.R.E.’ project, launched last year to educate children, youth, parents, and communities about abuse prevention, has been expanded in 2023. Big Joke also mentioned the Child Safe Friend Tourism Project, a scheme that trains tourism personnel and operators to protect children and youth in high-risk locations.

The goal of the Royal Thai Police, as expressed by Big Joke, is to rank Thailand as Tier 1 in the US Department of State’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report. In the latest report, released in June, Thailand remains in Tier 2, indicating it is not fully compliant but making significant efforts towards compliance.

At today’s event, Ambassador Macdonald presented the 53 year old deputy chief with a copy of Jack Changes the Game, an illustrated children’s book published by the Australian Federal Police last year. The book, written by children’s author Tess Rowley and illustrated by Shannon Horsfall, aims to raise awareness among children aged 5-8 and adults about staying safe in the world of online gaming.

Since the establishment of ACCCE five years ago, the Australian Federal Police has charged 877 alleged offenders with over 7,000 child abuse offences.

The agency recently concluded an investigation that started with a tip-off and resulted in 19 arrests for child sex abuse offences. Reports of online child sexual exploitation by the ACCCE have increased by more than 180% since its launch in 2018.

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Crime NewsPhuket News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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