NEWS: EU, Asia to discuss how to combat child sex trade

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Jyothi Kanics---Global Survival Network (
Tue, 6 Oct 1998 05:17:35 -0700 (PDT)

EU, Asia to discuss how to combat child sex trade

  By David Ljunggren
            LONDON, Oct 5 (Reuters) - Goverment officials and police
from the European Union and Asia open a three-day meeting in
London on Tuesday to discuss ways of jointly combating the
rapidly expanding child sex trade.
            ``Sadly, this is truly a world problem,'' junior Foreign
Office minister Derek Fatchett told a news conference on Monday,
saying all those involved had to increase cooperation.
            He said the 15 EU and 10 Asian members of the Asia-Europe
Meeting (ASEM) would discuss what he said were eight innovative
ways of tackling child abuse, which include sharing police
            Other ideas are setting up a digital international library
to help identify children forced into pornography, exploring
ways to help children give evidence in criminal trials and
promoting awareness of the sex trade among children in Southeast
            Children's charities say in Asia alone more than 650,000
children under the age of 16 work as prostitutes, and that one
million children enter the global sex market every year.
            ``In the United States there are 300,000 children working as
prostitutes in major cities. There are 300 children selling
themselves on the streets of Vilnius,'' the capital of
Lithuania, Fatchett said.
            ``In Moscow there are children as young as eight selling
themselves for vodka or cigarettes.''
            Britain and the Philippines signed an agreement last year to
cooperate in the fight against sex tourism and Fatchett said
British police would work closer with their counterparts in
Southeast Asia.
            He said a further meeting of ASEM customs and police
officers would be announced on Tuesday to examine ways of
collaborating more closely.
            ``Cooperation is essential. We need links between the people
involved in fighting the trade here and those abroad,'' junior
Home Office minister Alun Michael told the news conference.
            ``We already have some police coordination and we'll be
looking to extend that,'' he said.
            The two ministers dismissed newspaper reports that Britain
would send special police units to work out of embassies in
Southeast Asia and would put those convicted of child sex
offences abroad on the national register of paedophiles.
            Fatchett said the meeting was not designed to point the
finger at Southeast Asia, since much of the demand for child sex
came from Western Europe.
            He also acknowledged that the deepening Asian economic
crisis would make life harder, since worsening conditions were
likely to drive more families into destitution.
            ``It would be foolish to deny that the crisis will make our
task more difficult and make our work more important,'' he said.
            He also warned those Britons who had been jailed abroad on
child sex charges not to look to the Foreign Office for sympathy
because ``you won't get any.''

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