Snow White Smelser, program officer at the child sex offences team in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) East Asia headquarters in Bangkok, said pedophiles compare notes and share information online about countries, where they can operate most freely.
Typically, children are sexually abused by someone they know – a neighbor, a relative, a caregiver, or someone like Huckle, who according to court testimony groomed children in an impoverished ethnic Indian neighborhood in Kuala Lumpur.
Team Argos, the Australian detective unit that found Huckle in the dark web in late 2014, made a startling discovery from the team’s scouring of online pedophile networks: the unusual number of internet addresses in the Kuala Lumpur area transmitting child sexual abuse material from the dark web.
The government provides data on child abuse only at the request of a member of parliament.“We don’t want people to misinterpret it,” said Ong Chin Lan, the head of the Sexual, Women and Children Investigation Division of the Malaysian national police.The Malaysian capital is a “high concern” location for the distribution of child sexual abuse materials, said Smelser at the UNODC.Ong at the child sex crime unit said Malaysian police can’t properly monitor the encrypted pedophile networks.Cambodia, long known as a destination for traveling pedophiles, also does not disclose official data.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE WEAKNESS Weak policing and child protection laws make it difficult to punish child abusers in Malaysia, leading to inadequate investigations and low convictions on the reported cases, according to officials and child welfare groups Reuters interviewed.
Thailand’s government declined to provide data to Reuters.
A senior health ministry official, who did not want to be identified, said it could “make Thailand look bad”.
Police blame weak laws and rules governing court evidence that give little weight to children’s testimony as the reason most cases never result in charges.
Malaysia does not have a law specifically prohibiting child pornography and defines rape narrowly as penile penetration.
A veil was lifted in June when a British court handed Richard Huckle 22 life sentences for abusing up to 200 babies and children, mostly in Malaysia, and sharing images of his crimes on the dark web.