EESC opinion: Protecting children from travelling sex offenders

EESC opinion: Protecting children from travelling sex offenders

Key points

This opinion aims at suggesting ways of tacking the problem of sexual abuse of children within and outside of Europe.

It aims at reminding that a European strategy for the protection of children at risk from travelling sex offenders needs to be adopted, enforced and recognised as a priority.

Such strategy needs a strengthened holistic, child focussed, approach, covering:

  • the prevention of abuse. Research needs to be conducted into the background of travelling sex offenders;
  • the protection of those "at risk" and victims, including the identification of vulnerable children with the establishment of help lines and hotlines;
  • the prosecution of abusers, by enforcing the legal framework;
  • the partnership with NGOs specialised in prevention, corrective and supportive action;
  • and the participation of young people and civil society to create awareness raising.

Moreover, the measures to have an effective proactive strategy must include:

  • effective international partnerships with better information sharing, including cooperation between police forces and IT tools for tracking travelling sex offenders;
  • stronger bi-lateral cooperation agreements with relevant countries;
  • joint investigation teams with other law enforcement agencies;
  • agreements with foreign governments to deport and chaperone convicted offenders; consideration of the use of Foreign Travel Orders (FTO) to restrict travel for high risk sex offenders;
  • use of vetting and barring of sex offenders to work overseas;
  • implementation of a European, and if possible, global public awareness campaign on the reporting of sex offenders. This should be supported by a free international telephone hotline with a "real-time" online reporting mechanism;
  • involvement of civil society actors and social partners in raising awareness;
  • mechanisms for education, counselling and therapy/medical services for victims and training for those specialising in the field;
  • Europe wide launch of the "value statement" Europe Against the Sexual Exploitation of Children – SAY NO!, proposed in the opinion, to engage organisations to commit to the fight against the sexual exploitation of children. A "code" or "charter" already adopted globally (see, for instance: could accompany that statement;
  • expression by the EU institutions of their ethical and anti child sexual abuse travel policy on all travel reimbursement forms.