On the occasion of the 6th European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (18 November 2020), the following joint statement was made by:
The Greek Alternate Minister for Foreign Affairs, Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, outgoing Chair of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers;
the German Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas, the incoming Chair of the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers;
the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić;
the President of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, Rik Daems
“The protection of children from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse is a fundamental duty of all States. Governments must join forces at the international level to counter all forms of sexual violence against children effectively. The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown periods have increased the risk of children to fall victim of sexual exploitation and abuse, in particular as schools and social services have had to scale back activities due to health concerns. As new lockdowns are decided in many of our member States, we must put the interest of children first, reinforce efforts to prevent sexual exploitation and sexual abuse and bring perpetrators to justice.
Combating this scourge requires a long term, multi-stakeholder strategy including governments, parliamentarians, local and regional bodies as well as police, justice and health authorities. Moreover, schools, sports clubs, youth organisations, parents - each of us - have a role to play. Together, we have a societal responsibility to protect the wellbeing of our children. The implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, (the “Lanzarote Convention(*)”), which entered into force ten years ago is contributing effectively to achieve a more safe and secure environment for children, including in times of pandemic. It is an ambitious and comprehensive legal instrument which offers guidance and inspiration for any government in the world wishing to address this serious problem by strengthening its legal framework.
We express our expectation that soon the Lanzarote Convention will be ratified by all member states. We encourage also our observer States as well as non-member States to ratify this important Convention. Furthermore, we urge member States to proactively ensure that children are made aware of their rights and of how to access the services and measures that make those rights a reality in the context of the current pandemic.”
(*) To date, 46 of the 47 member States of the Council of Europe as well as Tunisia have ratified the Lanzarote Convention.