British national Bartle Frere has been sentenced for twelve years and six months for child abuse offences in India and the UK, marking an important step towards achieving justice for children exploited by British nationals overseas.

In October 2014, Frere, 50, a former pilot with British Airways, was convicted for a string of sexual offences against children in the UK, India and other countries.

The offences, dating back to 2000, include sexually assaulting a British boy, possessing indecent photographs of Ukrainian boys, making indecent images of boys in India and arranging or facilitating the abuse of boys in India.<--break->Bharti Patel, CEO of ECPAT UK, a leading child rights organisation campaigning for the protection of children from trafficking and transnational child sexual abuse, said:  

“The conviction and sentencing of Bartle Frere sends a strong message that sexual abuse of children in any country is a serious crime and a gross violation of a child’s right to be protected from all forms of violence. For too long have British nationals travelled abroad and abused children with impunity. This is clearly an important step in the quest for justice for every child abused abroad by British nationals." 

“It is important that every child that is abused has access to appropriate remedy to help in their physical and psychological recovery, rehabilitation and social reintegration. This is a right of every child and should be respected without discrimination.”

ECPAT UK has documented over 300 cases where British nationals, some convicted sex offenders, have travelled to countries such as Kenya, India, Cambodia and the Philippines to sexually abuse children, avoiding prosecution by local and UK authorities. In many instances, child victims have been left without the vital protection and support they need, even when convictions have been secured.

Access to compensation is a fundamental legal right of child victims of sexual abuse, enshrined in Article 9 of the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, which requires state parties to take all feasible measures to ensure all appropriate assistance is provided to victims of such offences, including their full social reintegration and their full physical and psychological recovery. It states that all victims of sexual abuse should have access to adequate procedures to seek, without discrimination, compensation for damages from those legally responsible.

ECPAT UK is calling on the UK Government to strengthen its commitment in the fight against transnational child abuse by implementing international obligations and setting up national and international law enforcement teams to protect children everywhere.

It also continues to campaign for the Government to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote Convention). The convention requires states to collect and store data on convicted offenders of sexual offences against children and to cooperate with relevant bodies across international borders for the purposes of preventing the sexual exploitation and abuse of children, providing for their protection and supporting victims. 

Detective Sergeant Dave Wise from Dorset Police said:

"Frere targeted vulnerable children to exploit them for his own purpose, and we hope that the lengthy sentence brings some closure to them and goes some way to repairing the harm he has caused to his victims and their families.”