The Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ) joined forces with the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA), the children’s rights advocacy group ECPAT, anti-human trafficking group, A21 Foundation, and the German-Southeast Asian Center of Excellence for Public Policy and Good Governance (CPG) to host the “Child’s Rights Ethical Standards and Psychological Analysis for Law Enforcement Workshop” to enhance law enforcement professionals’ capacities on the rights of child victims, witnesses and psychological analysis, and to develop a draft code of conduct for the treatment of child victims and offenders.
Ambassador Adisak Panupong, Special Advisor, Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ), noted that: “TIJ places the importance of child rights and child sensitivity on every dimension of the criminal justice system. We are aware that child abuse is a crucial problem on a global scale. Also, law enforcement professionals coming into contact with child victims and witnesses play a crucial role in responding to crimes against children and protecting child victims and witnesses, while restoring human rights and dignity of child victims and witnesses. This is the reason that TIJ has invited law enforcement agencies and multidisciplinary teams from various countries to come to discuss and share good practices on the issue.”
“I strongly believe that representatives from various agencies attending the workshop will benefit enormously from the knowledge of expert speakers from such agencies as the NCA from UK, FBI and HSI from USA, and develop a clear understanding of child rights, ethical standards and psychological analysis of child victims and witnesses, as well as self-care for professionals working with children which will guarantee effective protection of children, access to justice, and delivery of justice.”
Pol. Capt. Khemachart Prakaihongmanee, Deputy Director of Bureau of Foreign Affairs and Transnational Crime at the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) added: “Over the past year we have worked with Interpol’s ICSE database to catch offenders in over 50 cases and intercepted over 60,000 indecent images.”
“However, catching the bad guy is not the end of the story; the problem is that children are likely to be abused repeatedly when returning to the same abusive environment. To resolve this, we need our officers to possess an understanding the knowledge of the psychology of child rights protection which involves three parties: victims, TIJ joins forces with five organizations to promote ethics and psychology for protection of children’s rights offenders and law enforcers. This will contribute to building the capacity of the forensic interview by the officers of child victims, the creation of a manual of ethical standards for the offenders, and a study of the psychological aspects of both victims and offenders.”
Continuing on the point was Mr. Robbert van den Berg, Executive Director, ECPAT, who explained that: “Sex offenders travel. They use the internet and no country is immune. An enormously worrying trend that we have seen over past years is live streaming in the Philippines, as well as online grooming; “sexting” and “sextortion” within the ASEAN region. We see an increasing collaboration between law enforcement agencies within the region and foreign law enforcement agencies. I would like to offer some small suggestions for Thailand to help combat this issue. These are: the need for more research; improvement of Thailand’s national database — a vital tool for finding and identifying both victims and prosecutors; the continuation of investment in the capacity of law enforcement and individual police officers in Thailand and recruiting more female police investigators.”
Mrs. Malina Enlund, Thailand Country Manager, A21, added that: “We have very high respect for the people working on the front lines — both DSI and Thailand Internet Crimes Against Children (TICAC) — for a long time who we have worked with. The approach that we are taking is to support the police and concerned government agencies and fill in the gaps. It is essential for NGOs to work with the Thai Government and support the police, and ensure that they are not dealing on their own with a problem that is not created by Thailand alone. We realize that we need to put more effort into not only working with law enforcement and government but also empowering them to do their job and supporting them through their journey dealing with difficult social issues in Thailand.
Dr. Lasse Schuldt, DAAD Lecturer, CPG, also commented that: “Our role in this project is to give the workshop an academic framing, draft a report on the findings, and submit our recommendations. We are boosting our efforts to introduce international standards to Thai law enforcement authorities. From a legal standpoint, we work mostly on issues of criminal procedure and victims’ rights in criminal procedures. This can relate to the interrogation of victims and to the prevention of repeated interrogations, as well as the question to what extent the rights of victims needs to be balanced against the rights of defendants. Human rights play an important role here on the side of both victims and defendants.”
Every child has rights, while the promotion and protection of these rights is an urgent global issue. Therefore, it is hoped that this workshop will lead to the creation of an actual curriculum with which Thai authorities may enhance their expertise as well as a network to establish a code of conduct and develop ethical standards with the aim of forging international cooperation in combatting exploitation of children.
TIJ aims to continue to promote children’s rights and encourage a child-sensitive criminal justice system in accordance with international standards, especially the United Nations Model Strategies on the Elimination of Violence against Children in the Field on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, as a collaborative platform for policy advocacy, research, and capacity building in Thailand, Southeast Asia, and beyond.