Advocating for the Protection of Children from Exploitation and Abuse in the Commonwealth and Beyond

CLA is pleased to have been invited by the charity, It’s a Penalty, to join their work on advocating for change.

Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (CSEA) is an increasingly global human rights issue. Millions of children are being abused by offenders with impunity across the world.  Of these offences committed against children, only a small percentage result in justice against the perpetrators. No country is immune to CSEA.

All children could potentially become victims of this exploitation and abuse. However, some are more at risk of being victimised than others. CSEA has an immense effect on every victim; those who have been abused or exploited are often afflicted with severe physical, emotional and psychological damage for the rest of their lives.

CSEA is committed by offenders extraterritorially (whilst travelling abroad) as well at home. Unfortunately, these abusers often escape prosecution by returning to their home country – where national police forces are unable to prosecute due to lack of jurisdiction overseas.

In order to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse, and ensure that offenders are punished accordingly, legal reform, widespread collaboration and comprehensive action is required. It’s a Penalty has launched their Advocacy work as part of a commitment to building a world in which no child is vulnerable to exploitation or abuse.

Strategies to strengthen the prevention of CSEA in the Commonwealth are focused on 3 key actions:

Criminalise all forms of CSEA

In order to prevent the exploitation and abuse of children worldwide, it is crucial to deter potential offenders. An effective deterrent is the possibility of prosecution. Having comprehensive legal frameworks in place in target countries which sufficiently criminalise CSEA, including extraterritorial jurisdiction, ensures that offenders can be prosecuted for all forms of CSEA, no matter where they are from or where in the world the offence takes place.

Bring CSEA offenders to justice

In order to achieve justice for victims of CSEA, it is key that offenders are not able to act with impunity. Improving efforts made in target Commonwealth countries to enforce anti-CSEA laws and prosecute offenders, and addressing practical and societal obstacles so that victims and others are more able to report CSEA offences, ensures that fewer offenders will be able to escape justice and fewer offences go unreported.

Strengthen child protection

In order to improve the protection of children against sexual exploitation and abuse, it is essential that children and their communities are more aware and able to prevent CSEA from taking place, as well as support those who have been abused or exploited.

Why the Commonwealth?

No country is immune to CSEA, and, as with most areas of the world, the Commonwealth is greatly afflicted. Particularly affected regions include the Pacific, Africa, the Caribbean, and South and South-East Asia.

It’s a Penalty  and it’s partners are focusing on effecting change in Commonwealth member states.

The Commonwealth network of countries represents an integral part of the rules-based international order, with its emphasis on democracy, rule of law, human rights and the civic space, as set out in the Commonwealth Charter. In particular, the common law tradition is a strong bond which facilitates a productive sharing of best practice pan-Commonwealth.