NEWS: UK Urges More Cooperation To Fight Child Sex Trade

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Jyothi Kanics---Global Survival Network (jkanics@igc.apc.org)
Thu, 8 Oct 1998 12:35:29 -0700 (PDT)


Tuesday October 6 12:00 PM EDT

UK Urges More Cooperation To Fight Child Sex Trade

By David Ljunggren

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said Tuesday European and Asian nations had to
work together
more closely to combat the booming child sex trade and announced it was
drawing up a major new
plan to protect children at risk.

Junior Foreign Office minister Derek Fatchett, speaking at the start of a
special three-day meeting
of officials from the 25-nation Europe-Asia Meeting (ASEM), outlined a
series of steps he said
were vital.

``We need to work together more closely to combat sex tourism. We need to
exchange intelligence
and need to work more closely to catch and prosecute offenders,'' he said.

Children's charities say that, 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.

Britain and the United States also admit they have a growing problem with
the sexual exploitation
of children.

``This is happening on a scale we find both difficult to understand and hard
to believe,'' said
Fatchett, who also proposed a meeting of customs and police officers from
the ASEM members to
look at new ways of working together.

``We have a duty to ensure the innocence of children is not corrupted by the
evil lust for child
prostitution. That's why your work today is so important,'' he said. ASEM
groups the 15-nation
European Union and 10 Asian states.

Junior Home Office minister Alun Michael said Britain was drawing up a new
plan to tackle the
child sex trade which would increase cooperation between government
departments and also with
other countries.

``We will have a national plan to combat this problem and will implement a
new approach to
dealing with child prostitutes. We will also take a fresh look at the links
between offences abroad
and offending in Britain,'' he said.

``International cooperation is vital. Knowledge is power and using and
sharing knowledge at all
levels is absolutely vital,'' he added.

Britain and the Philippines signed an agreement last year to cooperate in
the fight against sex
tourism.

Campaigners called on the meeting not to get too bogged down in detail,
saying the millions of
children at risk around the world needed help immediately.

``It is far too early to be patting ourselves on the back. Every day we
waste on debating finances,
children are being abused and abandoned by society,'' said Christine Beddoe
of End Child
Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking (ECPAT).

``Tangible and immediate results should be our goal. The remit of this
meeting is to produce
constructive action which will benefit as many of our children in as a short
a time as possible,'' said
Zenaida Collinson of the Philippines embassy.


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