Enhancing regional cooperation in legal research on sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism
16/03/2017On October 27th, in Hanoi, Vietnamese Ministry of Justice and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) jointly held the second session on legal research on sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism. Attending the session was senior representatives from the four countries in the region, as well as representatives from the UN, the British Embassy, JICA and other development partners.
When the Southeast Asian countries have developed and connected with each other, criminals of sexual exploitation have more chances to approach children as their victims. In order to protect children against these threats, the senior officials of the Ministry of Justice of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam sat back together to share research findings and recommend legislations to strengthen law enforcement and international cooperation to protect children from sexual exploitation crimes transnationally.
In 2012, during a meeting of law enforcement cooperation against sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism within Children project of UNODC, Vietnam was leading country in the establishment of Regional Legal Research Group. Since then, members of this regional groups have alternately held annual meetings to share the progress and latest trends on legal framework and law enforcement to deal with the exploitation sexual crime on children.
UNODC supported the establishment and connected Legal Research Group, which focused on issues related to child sexual exploitation in travel and tourism. This unique group supported improvement of the legal framework, in accordance with child protection legislation, and share knowledge about the effectiveness of particular approaches to law and policy.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr.Christopher Batt, Officer-in-charge of UNODC office in Vietnam said that: ‘’Focus of prevention of child sex in travel and tourism by the Government of Lao, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam is changing legal and judicial system. The amendment of the Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and other related laws in Vietnam strengthen the legal basis to fight the crime of sexual exploitation of children ".
Ms. Nguyen Thi Kim Thoa, director of the Department of Criminal Law - Administration, Vietnam Ministry of Justice said: "Without the cooperation, we could not effectively prevent this dangerous crime. Therefore, this meeting is a good opportunity for the representatives from Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, national and international organisations to appraise current situation and law systems in these countries, justify the gap between expectation and reality, then search for opportunities for cooperation in legal research related to abuse, sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism in the near future.
At the seminar, representatives from countries in the region including Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam have reaffirmed the complex situation of this transnational crime and the urgency in strengthening cooperation in Southeast Asia to prevent and fight against it. Delegations from these countries presented the research results from their current law, discussed the recommendations from the study, as well as identified and agreed on mutual interest for cooperation in the future.
Dealing with the crime of sexual exploitation of children requires more than a comprehensive legal system. According to the UNODC report, "Protecting the Future: Improving deal with crimes of sexual exploitation of children in Southeast Asia", developing the legal framework and the judiciary need to be combined in parallel to improve capacity of law enforcement officials and changing attitudes of criminal justice officials. With the standard training materials, UNODC ensure that law enforcement officials will be equipped with a general knowledge based on rights, victim-centered approach and child-friendly methods to investigate and prosecute cross-border.
In the end of the session, Ms. Noriko Shibata, UNODC expert on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, appreciated the Regional Legal Research Group for their cooperation and commitment to protect children from sexual exploitation crimes, child abuse and violence.