Opinion: When a Dutch Reporter Encountered a Convicted Dutch Pedophile at a Bangkok Bar

Bo Hanna in front of a bar in Bangkok's Silom Soi 2 where he encountered the convicted Dutch pedophile.
Bo Hanna in front of a bar in Bangkok's Silom Soi 2 where he encountered the convicted Dutch pedophile.

With millions of tourists returning to Thailand after nearly three years of COVID-19 lockdown, it is almost inevitable that Thailand will see undesirable visitors to the kingdom among them. This includes pedophiles.

I recently met a young Dutch journalist in Bangkok who wanted to recount to me his encounter with what he certainly believed was unmistakably a convicted Dutch pedophile at a Bangkok gay bar.

Bo Hanna, twenty-something, is an Amsterdam-based independent journalist who focuses of human rights and has written about the case of the Dutch pedophile whom he will accidentally come across in Bangkok. Hanna was visiting Bangkok when one night, the ethnic-Egyptian Dutch reporter noticed an uncannily familiar face of a fellow Dutch one night at a bar in Silom Soi 2 in late January.

Not happy with the staring and photo taking across the bar, the forty-something pedophile and his Dutch mate gave Hanna an angry look, but Hanna decided to approach them.


“I know it’s a little awkward situation right now but please make sure your friend behaves,” Hanna recalled telling the friend of the alleged convicted pedophile whom we shall call Jan in Dutch. “I’m not his mother,” was the reply.

Hanna and Jan soon ran into one another again at the bar’s toilet and it did not take long before Jan told Hanna, “I don’t need you to tell me how to lead my life.”

“You better behave,” Hanna warns the man who recognized him as the Dutch journalist with a special focus on the issue.

“You don’t think I learned any lesson?” Jan replied.

“I genuinely hope you’re speaking the truth,” Hanna told me of his reaction to Jan’s words. “Yeah sure, because of all the places, you are in Thailand. How about taking it as advice from a good friend.”

Jan extended his hand out for a handshake, but Hanna refused to reciprocate and walked away. That was their last encounter in Bangkok.

According to Hanna, Jan (not his real name), was convicted by a Dutch Court for possession and dissemination of over 5,000 “extremely violent” child  pornography files and has served about a year and a half in prison before being released on probation last year. “That’s why when I saw him, I was shocked. To me it was like I saw a murderer.”

Hanna told me the Dutch authorities should have monitored him more closely and not allowed to travel to countries known for pedophilia-related activities and sexual exploitation of children.

Hanna said the court has not said he has a travel ban per se. Although convicted pedophiles like Jan who is still on probation needs to get an approval from an office, which is part of the Justice Ministry, before traveling abroad outside the EU zone (as there is no travel restrictions within EU zone). And Thailand, along with Cambodia and the Philippines, are preferred destinations for Dutch pedophiles.

“Thailand is one of the top destinations for people engaging in this child-sex industry.”

Indeed, we read news about pedophile-related crimes every now and then, the latest one being earlier this week when Matichon, a sister daily of Khaosod English, reports a move in Phuket’s Soi Bangla of Patong Beach where bar business operators met on Monday to adhere to a rule not to hire anyone below the age of 18 for sex work.

The move came after a recent police raid at one bar where underage sex workers were found. The nightlife business operators fear it will affect the image of the area, which is popular among foreign tourists.

Back to Bangkok, there would not be any arrest of people like Jan because he has served his time in prison and is now considered a free man, at least as far as Thailand is concerned.

I told Hanna the Thai authorities would not be keen because they are more concerned about getting more and more foreign tourists visiting the country.

Hanna posted on Twitter and Instagram about his encounter and alerted a Dutch NGO, which managed to pull strings and confirmed that Jan had quickly left Bangkok after the encounter with him.

He said Dutch public radio then contacted him and wanted to interview him. At the last minute, the radio program pulled out because the politician from a political party which support a travel ban on people like Jan told the radio it is a private matter.

“The program wanted to make it happen but said they needed a politician or expert in the episode to make it a discussion. So, they cancelled it due to the fact that no relevant politician or lawyer wanted to talk about the issue.”

“[They] cancelled it, saying it’s a private matter. We have a problem talking about the issue and not getting emotional,” Hanna told me.

Hanna added it is surreal, however, as in Holland, you cannot leave the country if you have not paid your parking fine.

“You can be stopped at the airport. I think it doesn’t make sense. They put children here at risk. I am criticizing my country for not doing the right thing. People here deserve better than that,” he said, adding that underage Thais should not be exploited due to the gap of income between Thailand and the Netherlands.


May be Thailand needs to implement a certain system, he added.

Listening to Hanna’s last words, a recommendation for Thailand, I wonder if I should, or could, expect more from Thai society, particularly the Thai authorities, to tackle the issue which has left some young Thais vulnerable or with permanent psychological scars as a result of sexual exploitations.

Perhaps Thai NGOs could keep tabs on the names of these convicted foreign pedophiles and send it to the Thai Immigration Police to monitor? I offered no words to Hanna that would encourage him to expect more.