The Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse known as the ‘Lanzarote Convention’ has been published by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The UK is one of 47 signatories to the Convention and although it has not yet been ratified by the UK, it is expected to be very soon and implemented into existing domestic legislation.

The key aims of the Convention are to:

  1. prevent and combat sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children;
  2. protect the rights of child victims of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse;
  3. promote national and international co-operation against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children.

The Lanzarote Convention is the first instrument to establish various forms of sexual abuse of children as criminal offences, including acts that are committed abroad. The Convention sets out preventative measures including screening, child protection training and monitoring for both offenders and potential offenders. The Convention also establishes support programmes to aid victims and encourages the reporting of sexual exploitation including providing telephone and internet helplines for children.

Measures set out in the Convention impose an obligation on signatories to criminalise the solicitation of children for sexual purposes ‘grooming’ and to contravene ‘sex tourism’. It is hoped that a concerted and international multidisciplinary approach will prevent and combat sexual exploitation and protect the rights of children across borders.

Please see below for a link to the Convention and the Government’s explanatory Memorandum.