Thursday, 21st June 2018

ECPAT UK heralds the UK government’s long-awaited ratification of the Lanzarote Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse in the UK and abroad.

For a decade, ECPAT UK has called on the UK government to ratify and implement the convention as part of its campaign against sexual exploitation and abuse of children in the UK and by its citizens outside the UK.

The Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (The Lanzarote Convention) is the first instrument to establish various forms of sexual abuse of children as criminal offences, including acts that are committed abroad. It was signed by the UK government in 2008. The convention requires states to prevent and combat sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children; protect the rights of child victims of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse and to promote national and international co-operation against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children. This includes implementing legislative measures to protect the rights of children without discrimination on any grounds of sex, race, gender, language, religion, national or social origin.

The ratification will now allow for greater international cooperation and information‐sharing across borders to investigate and prosecute offenders' sexual crimes against children in the UK and abroad. In addition, the UK will be required to implement preventative measures such as screening, child protection training and the collection of data on convicted offenders.

Bharti Patel, Chief Executive of ECPAT UK, said:

“We welcome the ratification of the Lanzarote Convention as a crucial tool in tackling the sexual abuse of children by British nationals in the UK and abroad.  It is clear that the existing framework to protect children at home or abroad from being sexually abused is failing. British perpetrators of sexual crimes against children abroad are rarely prosecuted in British courts, often due to lack of evidence and limited resources. This lack of information sharing between the UK agencies and foreign governments enables British sex offenders who have been convicted of abuse abroad to travel back to the UK undetected, and inhibits their prosecution.”

“In finally ratifying the convention, the government is committing to tackling child sexual abuse by Britons abroad and at home. It harmonises the UK’s efforts with our European partners and other countries to protect children from sexual abuse. It is imperative to promote greater international multidisciplinary approaches to combating sexual exploitation and protecting the rights of children across borders.”

ENDS

Press contacts

Sinead Geoghegan, Information, Media and Communications Officer, ECPAT UK: 020 7607 2136 [email protected]

Bharti Patel, CEO, ECPAT UK: 07402 113 985 [email protected]