ECPAT UK is using the first European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse to renew its call for the UK to ratify the Lanzarote Convention to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse.

Today (18th November) marks the Council of Europe’s first official European day to end child sexual abuse. The aims of the day are: to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation and abuse; to facilitate open discussion on child protection; to help end the stigmatisation of victims of child sexual abuse and exploitation; and to promote the implementation and ratification of the Lanzarote Convention.

The Council of Europe Convention on Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, also known as the Lanzarote Convention, requires states to implement legislative measures to prevent and combat the sexual exploitation of children; to protect the rights of child victims without discrimination on grounds of sex, race, colour, language, religion, national or social origin; and to promote national and international cooperation against the sexual abuse of children. The UK, which signed the convention in 2008, is one of only 13 of 47 Council of Europe member states which have failed to ratify and implement the convention, including Armenia, Azerbaijan, Liechtenstein and Slovakia.

ECPAT UK has long called for the ratification of the Lanzarote Convention as a crucial part of the campaign to end the sexual abuse and exploitation of children in travel and tourism by British nationals abroad. 

Figures made public in 2014 indicate widespread abuse of children by British nationals both within and outside of the EU and recent high-profile cases in India and Cambodia illustrate the prevalence of this issue today. However, in spite of the scale of this problem, very few British sex offenders have been prosecuted in the UK for offences committed overseas and the UK has no single team dedicated to investigating and prosecuting transnational child exploitation. 

A lack of information-sharing between the UK and foreign governments and law enforcements agencies enables British sex offenders who have been convicted of abuse abroad to travel back to the UK undetected, and inhibits their prosecution. The Lanzarote Convention would help to reduce this risk by facilitating the sharing of information across borders within the Council of Europe member states and by encouraging the use of extra-territorial legislation to prosecute British sex offenders abroad. 

“ECPAT UK welcomes the first annual European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse and urges the UK government to mark this day by announcing their plans for the ratification of the Lanzarote Convention” says ECPAT UK’s CEO Bharti Patel.

“It is clear that the existing framework is failing to protect children at home or abroad from being sexually abused. Perpetrators of sexual crimes against children in the UK and abroad are rarely prosecuted in British courts, and this shameful situation continues to put British children and children abroad at risk. The Lanzarote Convention is a crucial tool in tackling the abuse of children by British nationals, and the UK government should act urgently to ratify this important legislation.”

For more information on the European Day to End Child Sex Abuse and the Lanzarote Convention, visit the Council of Europe's website

Image copyright of the Council of Europe. Countries in red are those which have yet to ratify the Lanzarote Convention. 


Press contact

Bharti Patel, CEO, ECPAT UK, 020 7607 2136, [email protected]