A tourist hot spot for decades, Nepal is struggling with increasing cases of pedophilia by foreigners, blamed in part on a lax visa process. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A prominent Canadian figure once named to the prestigious Order of Canada, Peter Dalglish, has been found guilty of raping two young boys in Nepal. Dalglish was arrested on April 8 last year following alerts from Interpol and security agencies in Thailand and Canada.

Dalglish’s case, heard in a court in the Kavrepalanchok district, east of Kathmandu, dragged on for fourteen months until June 10 when the verdict was announced by the judge, Arjun Adhikari. Dalglish’s fate will be decided on June 10 when his jail sentence will be handed down.

Dalglish’s arrest and conviction follow a discernible rise in pedophilia cases in which young boys are targeted largely by Western tourists visiting Nepal. This has created a tension in Nepali society, which traditionally welcomed Western tourists. Tourism is a major source of revenue for Nepal.

A Member of the Order of Canada, Peter Dalglish has been convicted of raping two children in Nepal. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

For years Dalglish was known as a “leading authority” on destitute children, especially those from conflict zones. From 2010 to 2014 he was also deputy chief of UN-Habitat, a program that works on building sustainable urban settlements. In December 2016 he was named a “member of the Order of Canada.”

The guilty verdict was announced by the court, in the same district where Dalglish had been arrested, based on the verbal allegations of the two boys, aged 14 and 12.

Dalglish was arrested last year at gunpoint in his home at Nagarkot, a few hours away from the capital city Kathmandu. At the time of his arrest, the Central Investigation Bureau Nepal obtained a UN passport along with nude photos and videos of children, according to the material evidence submitted by the investigating authorities in court.

The Kavrepalanchok court found him guilty last week but the final verdict will be delivered on July 8. The case was delayed on several occasions until the two young boys confirmed that they had been assaulted by Dalglish.

Kabit Katwal, a CIB officer, told Asia Times, “He’s likely to be sentenced for 10 to 13 years.”

According to submissions made in court by a defense lawyer for Dalglish, an appeal against the guilty verdict will be filed next month. According to the defense team, they are banking on the lack of medical evidence to appeal the conviction.

Dalglish who is currently in jail, denied the allegations. Although the police produced nude photos of children allegedly recovered from his premises, Dalglish claimed that they meant nothing and couldn’t be related to the pedophilia charges.

It is reliably learned that a third child victim had also complained but later dropped his allegations in court.

Dalglish is also a former lawyer, who spent years working for children’s organizations. His resume includes work he did in Ethiopia, Guatemala, India, Liberia, Afghanistan, and Thailand. He had been working in Nepal since the early 1990s.

Nepal has seen a surge in pedophilia-related cases by abusers pretending to be tourists or philanthropists. The Himalayan Kingdom witnessed the arrest of ten western pedophiles between 2016 and 2018.  Nepal continues to suffer from a weak immigration system, and an easy visa makes it a hot spot for potential pedophiles, police authorities say.

“We are doing our best to tackle this issue,” Katwal of the CIB said.  “Dalglish’s case was strong because the two young boys maintained their statement against him.”

Strangely, Nepali law doesn’t have a specific provision for ‘pedophilia’ and prosecutes these cases as “sexual exploitation.”.The law has been criticized as too lenient, as the punishment is ten to thirteen years with compensation to the victims as decided by the court.

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