In view of the current singular circumstances determined by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Lanzarote Committee has issued a statement “The Lanzarote Committee Statement on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and abuse in times of the Covid-19," directed at State Parties, on means to protect and empower children and teenagers during current events.
Mr George Nikolaidis, Lanzarote Committee Chairperson and Ms Christel De Craim, Lanzarote Committee Vice-Chairperson, have noted in their Statement that the strict confinement measures, ensuing from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, may bring about surreptitious treats to the safety of children from sexual exploitation and abuse:
“For the vast majority of children, confinement means protection within a safe environment. For far too many girls and boys, confinement may however result in an increased vulnerability to violence, including sexual abuse and exploitation. It is therefore crucial to assess the impact of the COVID-19 crisis management measures and adapt the responses of the child protection systems to the new situation.” (p. 1).
The Lanzarote Committee Chair and Vice-Chair point out the importance of implementing the Lanzarote Convention by all State Parties to guarantee that “all children are confined in safe environments” where they are protected from online threats determined by an increase in screen time, including, but not limited to grooming, sexual extortion and/or “other sexual exploitation facilitated by information and communication technologies.” (p. 1).
They also draw attention to the duty of State Parties to monitor the “heightened risk of abuse, neglect, exploitation and violence” to which children are subjected during confinement, and to ensure that “helplines and hotlines are known to both children and the public at large and that they are made available round the clock, including through online platforms.” (p. 2).
In the framework of the Council of Europe projects “End Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse @ Europe” (End OCSEA@Europe) and “Protecting children from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse in the Republic of Moldova,” several translations and news items regarding the Lanzarote Committee Statement have been made available. You may find the links below.
The Council of Europe gratefully acknowledges the financial support provided for this programme by the Fund to End Violence Against Children.