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Child rights activists in Sri Lanka have charged that the Government had done nothing with regard to the case involving a French child sex tourist who had raped, abused and sexually assaulted 19 underage Sri Lankan boys.

It was reported that pedophile and a former director of a retirement home for Catholics in France, Thierry Darantiere, a Frenchman just over 50, was sentenced to 16 years in prison in France this week for the rape, abuse and sexual assault of 66 boys, between the ages of six to 17, in Tunisia and Egypt including 19 boys in Sri Lanka, during the period from 2002 to 2011.

Co-Founder and current Chairman of Protecting Environment and Children Everywhere (PEaCE), Mohammed Mahuruf said that local authorities did not help or support non-governmental organizations in conducting awareness programmes with regards to the said issues, even though the Government possessed no capacity to conduct such.

PEaCE is the local arm of ECPAT International, established to work towards ending child
prostitution, child pornography and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes.
“A weakness in the present law in place that should be remedied is to make the offence of child sexual abuse a non-bailable one,” he added, noting that pedophiles tended to be repeat offenders.

He pointed out that child sex tourism where children cater to Western tourists was not totally eradicated, adding that the Government was not interested in dealing with problem as the Government had invested in promoting tourism and therefore did not wish to sabotage efforts to this end.

The law must be strengthened and implemented, he mentioned, adding that as was the case with trafficking, one required a lot of knowledge in order to file charges in this regard and therefore there was a requirement that the Police officers especially of the Children and Women Bureau be trained to deal with such.

Querying as to what action the Government had taken in this regard, PEaCE explained that there was at present a tourist guide in prison for recruiting boys for Darantiere who had not been questioned in relation to this.