Siem Reap – On August 28th of 2019, The Siem Reap Provincial Court pronounced an in absentia verdict against Israeli national Mr. Ezra Balfour, aged 60, found guilty of “Indecent Act against a Minor Under 15 Years” under the Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation. The man was arrested, sentenced to 3 years in jail and ordered to pay a compensation of 3 Million Riels (approximately 750 USD) in total to 3 child victims. Additionally, he was banned to stay in Cambodia after the completion of his jail term.
In April 2018, APLE received a report from a partner NGO that works closely with street children. The concern reported suspicious behaviour from a foreigner who was allegedly abusing street boys. Immediately after receiving this information, APLE alerted the Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection (AHTJP) police in Siem Reap and assisted the agency throughout the investigation process.
During the course of the investigation, the suspect was identified as an Israeli man who actively approached street children at night. He rented a house in Siem Reap where he brought several street boys for sexual abuse. The possible victims were also identified and consequently interviewed; five boys disclosed sexual abuse perpetrated by the suspect.
In December 2018, following the boys’ statements, the Israeli man was interviewed by the AHTJP police in Siem Reap. However, due to the suspect having a medical condition, he fainted during the interview and was sent to the hospital immediately for life rescue, keeping him out of arrest as he was recovering.
After one boy victim’s father complained before the AHTJP police against the perpetrator, the boys and families decided to pursue a court case. APLE offered them free of charge legal aid and crisis support. APLE also coordinated other services from a partner organisation for the boys’ long-term psychological recovery.
“I welcome the maximum punishment and additional punishment on the ban on stay. Ban on stay or deportation shall be mandatory for every child sex offender abusing children in Cambodia. This is a strong and effective deterrence”, said Vando Khoem, APLE’s Child Protection Specialist.