UK activist urges for judiciary's sensitisation on paedophilia

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 20 November 2014 15:12 IST

Christine Beddoe, a British activist fighting paedophiles in UK, feels the need to sensitise the judiciary all over the world on the issue of paedophilia as many accused are being bailed out on flimsy grounds.

Beddoe, special advisor on children to the British Joint Parliamentary Committee on Modern Slavery Bill, addressed major NGOs from Goa and elsewhere in the country fighting for child rights.

Addressing the media later, she expressed regrets that the judiciary all over the world is not paying serious attention to the criminality of paedophiles, who spoil the life of innocent children.

While 293 Britons were arrested for paedophilic activities outsides UK in last five years, Beddoe said hardly anybody has been convicted so far.

66 among them were arrested in two years – 2011 and 2012, she said, outside UK.

To cite an example of judicial neglect, the UK-based activist said Raymond Varley, member of an international ring of paedophiles, was refused extradition by British court on the grounds that he was suffering from dementia.

The court accepted the report of the doctor, who was chosen by Varley himself and was not examined by an independent expert.

Varley, wanted by India, was arrested in Thailand in January 2012 and was deported to his hometown Lodon, where he managed to stop his extradition to India in an infamous Freddy Peat case of Goa.

“There are many cases where paedophiles are arrested but get bailed out as the courts do not use the powers granted by law, realising seriousness of heinous crime they are involved in.

There have been a few successful convictions of child sex offenders in Cambodia and UK, said Beddoe, but many offenders go scot-free.

She also pointed out that a lack of coordination among international agencies allows paedophiles, who are travelling abroad, to get off scot-free, making it possible for them to repeat the crime.

She earlier addressed the Forum of NGOs comprising of Children’s Rights in Goa, Caritas-Goa, Centre for Responsible Tourism, Jan Ugahi from Goa, Vikas Samvad from Madhya Pradesh and EQUATIONS from Bangalore.

Another trend is the setting up of orphanages, said Beddoe, where the child sex offender first builds a good profile within the community and once trust is built up, the abuse begins.

These orphanages are often set up on the fringes of tourism destinations but attract the friends and acquaintances of the offender.

For better collaboration and cooperation to link together and share information, she has suggested creating a central hub for information, protocols and contracts in tourism destinations to combat the sexual exploitation of children.

She has also suggested to have systems in place for rapid response and lastly to treat this as an organised international crime.

Suzana de Souza, Childline remarked that even though cases are booked under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012, which makes sexual offences as non-bailable offences, bail is still granted to such offenders.

Nishtha Desai, Children Rights in Goa voiced her concern regarding the difficulties of prosecution and the need for collaboration among NGOs, media, tourism industry and government.

She said it was 25 years since the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child - an opportune time to take stock of the situation and collaborate to strengthen child protection mechanisms.

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