REGIONAL CONFERENCE

Stopping Sexual Violence against Children
Ratifying and implementing the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children
against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (CETS No. 201)

Zagreb, 27-28 October 2011

 

Background

The protection of children from sexual abuse and exploitation has been a stated goal of the Council of Europe for many years. In 2007, the European Convention on the Protection of Children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse was adopted at a conference in Lanzarote, Spain (“the Lanzarote Convention”).

To date, the Convention has been signed by 28 member states and ratified by 15. Following its fifth ratification, the Convention entered into force on 1 July 2010. A Committee of the Parties composed of the representatives of the Parties to the Convention will be established in 2011 to monitor its implementation. The systematic monitoring of the implementation of the Convention will be one of its major strengths.

The “Lanzarote Convention” is the first international treaty to criminalise sexual abuse. It provides a comprehensive and exhaustive coverage of the protection of children against such crimes and consolidates existing standards in this field. This new instrument also aims at filling gaps in international instruments and national legislations, ensuring coherency throughout Europe and providing equal protection for all children by establishing clear common standards and definitions, which must be applicable in all countries, in particular by harmonising criminal law and other relevant measures. (Read more ...)

With an emphasis on keeping the best interests of children in the forefront, the convention covers the following main aspects:

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preventive and protective measures;

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assistance to child victims and their families;

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intervention programmes or measures for child sex offenders;

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criminal offences, including several entirely new offences, such as child grooming;

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child-friendly procedures for investigation and prosecution;

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recording and storing of data on convicted sex offenders;

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international co-operation;

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a monitoring mechanism to ensure implementation of the provisions of the Convention.

Preventive measures include the screening, recruitment and training of people working in contact with children, to make children aware of the risks and teaching them to protect themselves. The convention also establishes programmes to support victims, sets up help lines for children and provides that certain types of conduct are classified as criminal offences. It criminalises the use of new technologies to sexually harm or abuse children.

The implementation of the “Lanzarote Convention” needs to be considered in connection with the procedural law and international cooperation provisions of the Convention on Cybercrime, which provide important tools for law enforcement to investigate cybercrime, including offences related to sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children. The Cybercrime Convention is the only multilateral treaty dealing with cybercrime matters implemented in many countries while others are in the process.

In addition, the Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse introduces monitoring measures for offenders and potential offenders.

In November 2010, the Council of Europe launched the “One in Five”, a pan European campaign against violence, including sexual violence, with the following objectives:

  promote the signature, ratification and implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children

  against Sexual Exploitation and sexual abuse, which entered into force on 1 July 2010 and is open for signature to
observer and non member states of the Council of Europe;

  further raise European societies’ awareness of the full extent of sexual violence against children and to provide children,

  parents and professionals with knowledge and tools to prevent and to respond to sexual violence.

The main issues to be tackled by the campaign are the prevention and combat of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of  children, trafficking in children and cybercrime where children are targeted. The campaign will moreover have a strong dimension of child participation. Further information on the Campaign can be obtained from the following website: www.coe.int/oneinfive