ASEAN MPs endorse landmark legal framework to protect the region’s children from travelling child sex offenders

AIPA

Parliamentarians from ASEAN Member States have agreed to take steps to tackle the growing problem of child sexual exploitation in the context of travel and tourism.

Meeting in Malaysia this week as part of the 10th ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) Caucus, lawmakers agreed to a 24-point “check-list,” which will guide future legal interventions to protect children in their home countries. This is a significant development for the region, which has seen an increase in child sexual exploitation in recent years – in tandem with massive growth of the travel industry.

Check-list will guide legislation to protect children

Full details of the check-list are to be released at a later date, but some of the provisions that lawmakers from each of the ASEAN countries will bring forward include:

  • Developing national child sex offender registries
  • Establishing government-regulated child protection standards for the tourism industry to ensure children are not endangered by developments
  • Enforcing compulsory criminal background checks for those who want to work with children in the region (including foreign ‘volunteers’)
  • Establishing national reporting systems so people can easily report a crime if they see something suspicious

During discussions, AIPA Members of Parliaments shared similar concerns over the increasing cases of child sexual exploitation in travel and tourism across the region and acknowledged that variations in legislation between AIPA member states has complicated tackling the issue. All delegates agreed that legislation needs to be harmonized to close the gaps related to protecting children.

ASEAN is the first region where this a legal check-list will be used as a tool for harmonizing legal frameworks, cross border law enforcement and justice system cooperation.

The legal check-list was developed by AIPA through its Project-Based Initiative “Strengthening Legal Frameworks to Protect Children in Travel and Tourism.” It is based on the Global Study on Sexual Exploitation of Children in Travel and Tourism, that includes input from 67 partners from around the world. AIPA developed the check-list through a consultative process involving parliamentarians and representatives of ECPAT International, UNICEF, Interpol and other key partners.

Protecting children in travel and tourism and ending impunity for travelling child sex offenders was a key commitment made by world leaders, governments, the private sector, NGOs and regional organizations, including AIPA – at the first International Summit on Child Protection in Travel and Tourism, held in Bogotá, Colombia in June 2018.

Read the report from the 10th ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly Caucus Meeting here.