On 4 June 2014, ECPAT UK, as part of its work on transnational child abuse, brought together national and international experts recognised for their work on human rights of child victims of abuse, child trafficking and abusive images of children to discuss the issue of justice and support for children who are victims of abuse by British nationals travelling or residing outside the UK.

The seminar revealed the challenges in the UK’s response to victim protection in other jurisdictions, particularly with regard to identification and protection of victims during the investigation and prosecution process and beyond. Discussions focused on necessary measures to ensure that child victims of abuse by UK nationals in other jurisdictions receive the support and assistance they require for their rehabilitation, restitution and compensation.

James R. Marsh from Marsh Law Firm PLLC delivered the keynote speech about his experiences in representing the rights of a victim of child sexual abuse in the Supreme Court case of Paroline vs. United States. ECPAT International submitted an amicus brief before the Supreme Court to assist the court with background on the context of online child abuse images, including the global scale of the problem, the harm caused to the victims and the international legal framework in the area. Highlighting the intersection of criminal law and federal civil statutory remedies to help victims obtain justice nationwide, James outlined recommendations in securing compensation and support for child victims of sexual abuse and exploitation in the US context, including the need for legislative change in order to fill in the gaps in the support available to child victims of exploitation and abuse.

Participants heard from experts from the CPS, specialist barristers and solicitors representing victims of national and transnational child abuse, as well as the National Crime Agency’s CEOP command, who highlighted their findings from various international collaborative operations. Experts discussed the systems in place for victims in the UK context, the procedures for safeguarding children during transnational investigations, the laws and international instruments providing for support of victims in other jurisdictions and the need for systematic and regular information sharing between actors to ensure that the needs of vulnerable children are met at every stage of the process.

Participants also commended ECPAT UK for drawing attention to the plight of children abused by British nationals abroad. Speaking after the event, Solicitor Martyn Day said: “We have been bowled over by the strength and enthusiasm of ECPAT and the quality of your work.”

This event was the first step in understanding where the gaps in the system are that leave the voices of vulnerable child victims of abuse around the world unheard. ECPAT UK will continue to work on this issue to bring together stakeholders in the area to strategise on how to ensure that the UK takes responsibility for the criminal actions of its nationals regardless of where they are committed.