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article imageGoa’s bitter experience of pedophilia run rampant

By Armstrong Vaz     Jan 1, 2009 in Crime
In 1991, India and specifically the resort state of Goa caught the attention of the world for all the wrong reasons. For the first time, its laidback residents learned from the local and international newspapers that Paedophiles stalked their state
On that eventful day, the small state in western India earned notoriety for sex tourism, a tag that it has not been able to wash itself off. Seven men were accused of sexually abusing downtrodden children at an orphanage run by the co-accused, Freddy Albert Peats, in south Goa. Of them, five are yet to stand trial even as Indian law-enforcing agencies have been battling against all odds to get the accused extradited and stand trial in India. The abuse had international links - the accused hailed from countries like Australia, New Zealand, England, Sweden, France and Germany.
Peats’ accomplices were: EC Macbride (New Zealand), Nils Oscar Johnson (Sweden), Zell Jurgen Andress (Germany), Raymond A Varley (UK) Dominique Sebire (France) and Werner Wulf Ingo (Australia). Ingo, the only one successfully extradited to India, was sentenced to ten years of rigorous imprisonment by an Indian court last year. The Australian was found guilty and convicted on charges of sodomy, unnatural sex with minors, abduction and criminal conspiracy. He was charged under Sections 363, 367 and 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) read with Section 120(b) of the IPC.
Peats died four years back; he was 81 at the time; he was convicted on March 21, 1996 and sentenced to life imprisonment; he died while serving his sentence. The others who were accused were not in India or had made good their escape with the arrest of Peats. Even after 18-years the Indian law-enforcement agencies are finding it increasingly difficult to extradite the foreign nationals who had committed the crime in India. All have remained elusive from the Indian law-enforcing agency even after the help of Interpol was sought in the matter, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Vijay Shanker had said earlier.
The CBI, the centralised investigating agency, bogged down as it is with the case, has sought to adopt a new approach to bring the elusive foreign nationals to book. The agency is trying to put in place a system to get the accused indicted and tried in their country of domicile. CBI was forced to look for other options in order to ensure that Peats’ accomplices face trial in the case as its own efforts to extradite the foreign nationals have been rendered difficult by the unsupportive attitude of the countries concerned. The CBI has now sent the relevant documents to the law-enforcing agencies of the country where the accused are domiciled, so they can be tried there.
But what has been the outcome is not known till date.
Goa, a flourishing tourism trade centre, has been trying over the years to check the menace of sex tourism and put in place a legislation to curb it. With increasing pressure from NGOs and social activists, Goa drafted a model law; called the Goa Children’s Act, it is a unique piece of legislation; a children’s court has since been established. The legislation has specifically made such abuse a non-bailable offence under Section 2 (a) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.
The Goa Children’s Act specifies tough punitive measures for offenders. The fines and jail terms are: Rs 100,000 with imprisonment between one and three years for sexual assault and incest; Rs 200,000 and between seven and ten years of jail term in case of grave sexual assault. The Children’s Court will try all offences against children.
A set of child-friendly court procedures has also been prescribed to minimise the trauma that the abused children may be subjected to. The Act, which seeks to make Goa a children-friendly state, has placed the onus of responsibility on different sections of the society to prevent child sex abuse.
Those associated with hotels, photo studios, cyber cafes, the tourism department and the police as also those associated with the travel and tourism trade are expected to play a role in curbing the menace. So far three cases have been tried under the new Act but all of them ended in acquittal. With tourist arrivals in the country rising over the years, international agencies have warned of the menace spreading to other areas. Carmen Madrinan, executive director of an NGO, ‘End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children’ (ECPAT) and an international expert on child sex tourism says that the child sex industry in India has spread from its traditional hubs of Goa and Kerala. It is gaining momentum in places like Tamil Nadu.
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