EU call to action on tackling abuse of children from travelling sex offenders

The EU must do more to enforce the prosecution of child sex tourism offences, argues Madi Sharma.

By Madi Sharma

25 Apr 2014

The World Cup in Brazil is getting ever closer but behind the glamour and the fantasy of the games lies the reality of the people of Brazil and particularly the ugly truth of a multimillion global industry profiting from the sexual exploitation of children.

As the European Economic and Social Committee’s (EESC) opinion rapporteur on the report on “Preventive measures for the protection of children against sexual abuse” I have dedicated myself to the cause of bringing the sexual exploitation of children, and more specifically the sexual abuse of children from travelling sex offenders, to light and have requested more protective measures and legislation from the European Union’s leadership that will target on a uniform system of protection and an improved enforcement mechanism.

Child sex tourism is closely linked to issues surrounding poverty, armed conflicts, rapid industrialisation and exploding population growth. In Latin America and Southeast Asia, for instance, street children often turn to prostitution as a last resort. These vulnerable children are also an easy target for exploitation by traffickers.

As I pointed out in the EESC opinion, prevention at multiple levels is the key to the protection of children. In that direction the EU must immediately sign and ratify, the Council of Europe convention on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and abuse and the optional protocol to the UN convention on the rights of the child, on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, to strengthen the ability of the EU to prevent child sexual abuse.

"The EU needs to work at an international level to put in place a multilateral enforcement mechanism that will provide for the prosecution of child sex tourism offences"

This will allow all member states to have a unified system of persecution of these crimes, since most of the perpetrators come from the most developed countries of the world, including Europe.

At the same time, the EU needs to work at an international level to put in place a multilateral enforcement mechanism that will provide for the prosecution of child sex tourism offences.

Currently some countries have extraterritorial laws that allow their citizens to be prosecuted specifically for child sexual abuse crimes committed while abroad, while other nations have more general extraterritorial laws that could be used to prosecute their citizens for crimes committed during child sex tourism trips.

However, this is not sufficient. We need to create a legal framework and mechanism that will allow for exchange of information between countries and cross-border prosecution of the perpetrators of these horrendous crimes.

Usually, those who travel for the purpose of sex tourism target countries where law enforcement is weak and the chances of prosecution are minimal. We should be targeting those countries and the EU should be working closely with civil society organisations in bringing awareness to the people and development in their societies.

This will allow for the causes that lead children to prostitution and sexual abuse to be eradicated so that the sexual abusers will no longer find an open market to act.

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