Assembly: We must end ‘sex tourism’ impunity

Some 250,000 people travel abroad every year for sex with children and under-age minors, according to the Parliamentary Assembly.

It wants tomorrow’s World Day against Sexual Exploitation (4 March) to alert governments to the extent of the problem and to strengthen the fight back through two Council of Europe treaties.

In a joint statement, Stella Kyriakides, General Rapporteur on children and José Mendes Bota, General Rapporteur on violence against women, declare that “Trafficking of human beings for purposes of sexual exploitation, affecting a large number of children, especially girls, is increasing.

“In Europe, however, convictions are falling, which represents a worrying development: impunity for such crimes is not an acceptable outcome.

“On the occasion of the World Day against Sexual Exploitation (4 March), our first thought goes to children: girls and boys targeted by travelling sex offenders, trafficked for sexual exploitation, forced into prostitution and child pornography, or victims of other forms of sexual violence.”

The MPs point to Council of Europe treaties – “two powerful tools” – as strengthening governments in their fight against the sexual exploitation of minors.

“The Lanzarote Convention, specifically dealing with sexual exploitation of children, and the Istanbul Convention on violence against women. These are comprehensive treaties based on prevention, protection of victims and prosecution of perpetrators, and require the criminalisation of all kinds of sexual offences against children.

“We call on the national authorities of Council of Europe member states to put an end to impunity for the sexual exploitation of children by ratifying and implementing the Lanzarote and the Istanbul Conventions. We count on parliamentarians: by promoting ratifications and supporting and monitoring implementation of these instruments, they can save thousands of children from sexual exploitation.”

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