Two years after proposing a common framework in Asia to protect children from Sexual Exploitation, ASEAN countries have endorsed a legal framework to tackle this problem.
ASEAN Parliamentarians representing Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam have joint forces in landmark unanimous decision to endorse a legal framework to protect children from sexual exploitation in travel and tourism in the region.
Terre des Hommes and its partners from Girls Advocacy Alliance have been advocating for this decision which is not only placing sexual exploitation of children at the heart of the regional agenda, but discussing ways of institutionalizing the topic in the Asia Inter-Parliamentary Assembly.
This idea of protection for children from sexual exploitation in travel and tourism was proposed in Bali, Indonesia in 2017 and further strengthened in Pattaya, Thailand with the support of Terre des Hommes and its partners.
All eight countries from ASEAN with the exception of Indonesia and Thailand who have just concluded their General Elections and are in the midst of forming their Governments, had attended this meaningful and significant meeting to consolidate resources, information and intelligence on these pressing and urgent matters.
During discussions, parliamentarians 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 ASEAN member states has complicated tackling the issue.
By endorsing the legal checklist, delegates agreed that legislation needs to be harmonized to close the gaps related to protecting children.
ASEAN is the first region where this type of legal checklist will be used as a tool for developing strong and effective legal frameworks and cross border law enforcement and justice system cooperation.
”We’ll see an influx of tourists from the region and all over the world, hitting at least 30 million”
“This is an opportune and fitting time for the meeting to have convened in Malaysia - as next year is Visit Malaysia Year 2020. We’ll see an influx of tourists from the region and all over the world, hitting at least 30 million, of which undeniably will also consist of sex predators who will begin strengthening their vile, beastly macabre network with other predators, preying on children who will be victims of sexual exploitation and abuse.” declared Kasthuri Patto, Chairperson of the ASEAN Parliamentary Working Group.
A new resolution is expected to be submitted for adoption by the General Assembly of ASEAN Parliament in August 2019 to which “children caucus” will be proposed as one of the permanent mechanisms where regional parliamentarians will discuss, propose and monitor initiatives in improving national legislations related to SECTT and violence against children.