ECPAT UK has welcomed the sentencing of British national Simon Harris to 17 years and four months in prison for sexually abusing children while working in Kenya. Harris, a former public school teacher and overseas charity executive, was found guilty of seven sexual offences against children in Kenya by Birmingham Crown Court in December 2014.

Bharti Patel, CEO of ECPAT UK, said of the conviction under rarely used sexual offences legislation: “The sentence imposed on Simon Harris illustrates the severity of the offences of which he has been convicted. We welcome the strong stance the UK courts have taken in this case. Bringing Simon Harris to justice, finally, following abuse against vulnerable children in the UK and Kenya in the 80s and 90s, is a positive outcome, and we commend the justice system here in the UK.

"If we are to make good on the promise of this conviction, authorities must share intelligence of high-risk individuals across and within UK borders, and fundamentally improve investigations, prosecutions and convictions of perpetrators. We also must devote more resources to addressing the acute vulnerability of children in key destination countries for child abusers by ensuring robust child protection measures.”

ECPAT UK has consistently pressured the UK Government to significantly improve extradition and conviction rates of British offenders travelling or living abroad for abuses committed against children. 

According to press reports, Simon Harris committed the offences while running a gap-year charity he set up in Kenya in the 1990s. During the trial, he also admitted to six offences of indecently assaulting three boys aged between 13 and 14 while he was a teacher in Devon. The case of Simon Harris is not an isolated incident. ECPAT UK has documented hundreds of cases of children abused by British nationals travelling or living abroad.

ECPAT UK has been at the forefront of the campaign to implement and extend extraterritorial legislation in the Sexual Offences Act (2003).