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The implementation of measures to combat child sex tourism

The Union takes stock of the measures adopted following the 1996 Communication from the Commission on combating child sex tourism.

ACT

Communication from the Commission of 26 May 1999 on the implementation of measures to combat child sex tourism.

SUMMARY

In the wake of the 1996 Communication from the Commission on combating child sex tourism, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on this subject and the Tourism Council adopted a declaration in November 1997. In addition to the funding provided under existing Community policies, programmes and initiatives, a specific new budget line was set up to fund public awareness campaigns to combat child sex tourism.

In a general sense, the Commission has worked to improve coordination at EU level both within the Commission itself (through interdepartmental meetings) and through national information campaigns.

Raising awareness of the phenomenon of child sex tourism

A survey was carried out in 1998 to sound out the views of Europeans on child sex tourism. One of its findings was that an overwhelming majority of respondents wanted EU intervention to combat this scourge.

Since 1997, the Commission has taken part in various tourism events (the most important being the Brussels Travel Fair and the Internationale Tourismus-Börse in Berlin), where it has met tourism professionals and carried out surveys of their attitudes to child sex tourism. Further analyses will be carried out at other tourism events such as the World Travel Market in London in November 1999.

The Commission has also organised meetings at European level of the main players involved in the fight against child sex tourism, where the participants have discussed the identity, motivation and behaviour of sex tourists and the links between tourism and prostitution. As provided for in the 1998 Communication on further measures in the fight against trafficking in women, funding will be provided for research into the links between child sex tourism and the growth of trafficking in very young women. Studies on the public health implications of child sex tourism could also be carried out as part of other Community action programmes.

Of particular concern to the Commission is the rise in cases of sexual exploitation of children in the countries of central and eastern Europe and the existence of cross-border trafficking in child prostitutes into the EU. A detailed analysis of the situation will be carried out along with a list of the measures taken by the countries in question, with the aim of providing them with effective support.

Strengthening the effectiveness of laws and law enforcement, including extraterritorial criminal laws

The development of police and judicial cooperation in Europe has led to the adoption of a number of different instruments to combat trafficking in human beings:

  • The 1997 Joint Action on combating trafficking in human beings and sexual abuse of children stipulates that each Member State shall review its national legislation in these areas. Such behaviour should be classified as a criminal offence in all Member States and be punishable by dissuasive criminal penalties. The Joint Action affirms the principle of extraterritorial jurisdiction. Before the end of 1999, the Council is to undertake an examination of the changes Member States have made to their legislation.
  • An incentive and exchange programme (called STOP), with a budget of 6.5 million for the period 1996-2000 has been set up to assist persons responsible for combating trade in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children. The applicant countries could be involved in this programme.
  • The mandate of the Europol Drugs Unit was broadened at the end of 1996 to cover trafficking in human beings. At the end of 1998, a Council Decision was adopted supplementing the definition of trafficking in human beings contained in the Annex to the Europol Convention. The establishment of Europol on 1 July 1999 provides an opportunity for increased cooperation between the law enforcement authorities and for a comparison to be made of the reasons for success or failure on an operational level.
  • The DAPHNE initiative, launched in 1997, supports the activities of NGOs involved in combating all forms of violence against women and children. Measures have been funded under this initiative to combat child sex tourism and child pornography on the Internet. Further measures in this area could receive support under the Community action plan on promoting safer use of the Internet.

Intensifying efforts to stem the flow of sex tourists from Member States

To encourage people travelling abroad to behave responsibly, the coordination of national awareness-raising campaigns at European level has been stepped up. The European Commission has supported several projects (short information video shown on flights to high-risk destinations, information leaflets for travellers, training for tourism professionals), and at the end of 1998 organised the first European meeting of the main partners in the fight against child sex tourism. An exhibition on Community action in this field has been put together and displayed at various specialist events.

Action has also been taken in the area of initial and ongoing training for tourism professionals. Alongside this, media professionals have adopted rules of conduct on how the issue child sex tourism should be handled.

The tourism industry has adopted a dozen or so texts concerning ethical standards. At a technical meeting on measures to combat child sex tourism held in June 1997, the tourism industry and the Commission held an exchange of views. The Commission's intention is to assess the implementation of these codes of conduct.

With a view to increasing the international impact of its initiatives, the Commission has started to work together with the World Tourism Organisation (WTO), particularly in the WTO's Task Force entitled "Tourism and Child Prostitution Watch". Cooperation could also be pursued with other organisations working in the field of child protection (UNICEF).

Developing measures to combat sex tourism in third countries

The EU has adopted a stance on child sex tourism in various international organisations (United Nations, International Labour Organisation, Asia-Europe (ASEM) Summit). In addition, the ACP-EU Joint Assembly adopted a resolution in 1999 on the situation of children in ACP countries.

Practical work has been done to rationalise methods of intervention and coordinate Community resources available for the protection of child victims of sex tourism. This next step in this work could be to identify 'sensitive' destinations, survey the situation there, and then draw up recommendations for action.

While no specific action has been taken in the area of support for human rights as it relates to child sex tourism, information and awareness-raising campaigns on this subject could be organised for the delegations, representations and external offices of the European Commission and, if necessary, for the consular and diplomatic staff of the Member States.

Follow-up work

On 21 December 1999 the Council adopted conclusions on the implementation of measures to combat child sex tourism [Official Journal C 379, 31.12.1999]. In agreement with the Commission Communication, it urges the Commission and the Member States to develop initiatives in the four areas of action outlined above. An integrated approach is necessary involving various policies (justice and home affairs, health, education, tourism, external policy, etc.).

As regards tourism, the Commission and the Member States are called upon to continue to support awareness-raising measures and the establishment of codes of conduct Efforts must be made to bring an end to child sex tourism from the Member States. Measures to combat this violation of the rights of the child must be incorporated in national and Community development and cooperation policies. Finally, close cooperation must be established between the Commission, the Member States and organisations concerned.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force and expiry dateDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
COM(99) 262 final./TD>---

RELATED ACTS

Council framework Decision2004/68/JHAof 22 December 2003 on combating the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography

Council Decisionof 29 May to combat child pornography on the Internet.

Commission Communication of 27 November 1996 on combating child sex tourism.

Last updated: 20.12.2006

See also

Further information:

The Freedom, Security and Justice site of Directorate-General JLS of the European Commission:

  • EU action against trafficking in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children

The European Parliament's "Area of Freedom, Security and Justice" site:

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