One in Five

Conclusions of the debate in the Senate of Romania

07.12.2011 – On Thursday, 24 November 2011, the Senate of Romania hosted the debate on the subject „The protection of children against sexual exploitation: challenges, best practices, guidelines”. The meeting was moderated by Mr. Sorin-Constantin Lazăr, contact parliamentarian on behalf of the Senate of Romania, for the Council of Europe ONE in FIVE Campaign to stop sexual violence against children.

Prior the thematic sessions, the floor was opened by senator György Frunda, chairperson of the Committee on human rights, cults and minorities of the Romanian Upper Chamber, member of the Romanian Delegation to PACE, who highlighted inter alia the main aims of the Council of Europe Convention on the protection of children against sexual violence and sexual abuse (Lanzarote Convention). Mr. Lazăr, in his capacity as contact parliamentarian, briefed the participants on the activity undertaken so far, at European level, within the framework of the Parliamentary Dimension of the Campaign.

The two thematic sessions on „The risk factors of sexual exploitation of children” one hand, and on „The priorities in the fight against sexual exploitation of children in Romania” on the other hand, were introduced by representatives of the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Protection (General Directorate on the protection of children); the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Education, Research, Youth and Sport; the National Agency of the fight against human trafficking, General Inspectorate of the Romanian Police, the University of Bucharest, the Ombudsman’s office, the Reaching Out Association, the Romanian Centre for disappeared and sexual exploited children (FOCUS) and Save Children Romania.

Following a lively debate, the following conclusions have been drawn:

- There is a major discrepancy between the official statistics and reality;
- Children are the most vulnerable group of our societies;
- Family is a frequent source of any sort of violence;
- Children aged between 14 and 17 years are at the highest risk;
- Trafficked minors have generally a poor education, are especially girls and have an urban background;
- Need to set up tribunals or specialised sections for family and minors issues to be made up of judges having an exclusive competence for this kind of cases;
- Probation Office of the Ministry of Justice has to be relieved from assistance given to victims of sexual abuse;
- Observance of the superior interest of children should allow the use of the records taken during an audition, as a mean of evidence, in the framework of a trial;
- Facilitating the access of employers to the section of the criminal record - usually kept secret – in some cases, in order to prevent the employment of persons that committed in the past sexual offences;
- Legislative inconsistency allowing the family reintegration of a child, even in the cases in which the sexual perpetrator belongs to that family.

The participants to the debate have been asked, to submit, by 15 January 2012 at the latest, to the contact parliamentarian proposals meant to improve the relevant legislation, with a view to making up for shortcomings noticed in the daily work in this field.

On the occasion of this debate, the electronic version of the Handbook for parliamentarians on Lanzarote Convention translated into Romanian was distributed to participants.