RESOLUTION 1099 (1996)
on the sexual
exploitation of children
Viewing with profound indignation and sadness the crimes committed against children
recently in Belgium, but also in several other European countries, the Assembly recalls
that the sexual exploitation of children is an unacceptable violation of human rights.
These events, which have revealed the existence and development of organised
paedophile networks involving young children and the horror of trafficking in children in
Europe, have disclosed shortcomings and deficiencies in judicial and police co-operation
The Assembly has issued constant reminders that children are vulnerable and "are
in need of special assistance, care and protection" (Recommendation 1121 (1990)).
The Assembly recalls its
Recommendation 1065 (1987) on the traffic in children and
other forms of child exploitation, in which it urged the enactment of "strict laws
and regulations to combat child pornography and harmonise member states' relevant
legislation", and strongly calls on member states to combat child pornography in
whatever form (publications, video, Internet).
The Assembly calls upon the member states of the Council of Europe to unite their
efforts and their resources to combat child prostitution, trafficking and pornography, in
order that the sexual exploitation of children may cease, and calls for increased
The Assembly welcomes the efforts currently being made to promote the cause of
children and fully subscribes to the conclusions and agenda for action of the World
Congress against commercial sexual exploitation of children, held in Stockholm from 27 to
31 August 1996.
The Assembly recalls that in its
Recommendation 1286 (1996), it recommended to the
Committee of Ministers that the work concerning child protection and children's rights be
given absolute priority, and that a permanent multidisciplinary structure be set up, able
to deal with all issues relating to children.
The Assembly recalls that in its
Recommendation 1121 (1990) and its
Opinion No. 186
(1995), it requested the Committee of Ministers to draft an additional protocol to the
European Convention on Human Rights, on children's rights, in order to make them legally
The Assembly asks the member states to support work on the drafting of an optional
protocol to the United Nations' International Convention on the Rights of the Child, on
child trafficking, prostitution and pornography.
The Assembly calls upon the member states not yet having done so:
to sign, ratify and implement the 1989 International Convention on the Rights of the
Child and the European Convention on the Exercise of Children's Rights;
to sign, ratify and implement the relevant Council of Europe criminal law
conventions (European Convention on Extradition and its protocols, European Convention on
Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, etc.).
The Assembly recalls the need, stated in its Recommendations
1121 (1990) and 1286
(1996), to develop information programmes and preventive measures, and in particular:
to appoint a commissioner for children (ombudsman) or to create an appropriate
structure in every country, at local or national level, to inform children their rights,
counsel them and intervene on their behalf;
to promote information campaigns for children and their parents, and also provide
educational and psychological care for children who are victims of sexual exploitation.
The Assembly encourages the member states to reinforce punitive measures at national
level and adoptcriminal legislation on child prostitution without delay. It underlines
especially the need:
to include in their criminal legislation the principle of extraterritorial
prosecution and conviction for offences;
to foresee a sufficiently long statutory limitation for the prosecution of offences
against minors (at least twenty years, and a time-limit for starting proceedings that
extends at least five years beyond the age of majority);
to create the following new criminal offences, punishable by deterrent sentences:
the possession of pornographic material, such as videos, documents or photographs
the manufacture, transport and distribution of pornographic material showing minors;
the broadcasting and recording of pornographic images of minors;
to enact legislation providing that all sexual offences involving children should be
classified as serious offences; such offences should under no circumstances be included in
a category of less-serious offences;
to harmonise, as far as possible throughout Europe, the treatment of sexual
offenders, in particular concerning release on parole, psychological treatment and social
to incorporate into their legislation the principle that a minor under the age of 15
years cannot give her or his consent to sexual relations with an adult;
to allow child protection associations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to
act as complainants in cases of sexual abuse of children.
The Assembly asks member states to take concrete measures to put an end to sex
tourism, in particular to enable criminal and administrative measures to be brought
against travel agencies and tour operators (withdrawal of licence, fines, etc.), and to
deter those wishing to engage in sex tourism, through the screening of films on aircraft
flying to the countries at risk, illustrating the serious harm caused to the psycho-social
and physical development of sexually abused young people, and the handing-out of leaflets
on the sexual exploitation of children to tourists as they leave their aircraft.
The Assembly also calls on member states to work in close co-operation with
countries whose children and young people suffer sexual exploitation by nationals of the
member states in order to combat sex tourism abroad.
Furthermore, the Assembly advocates that programmes of specific training for
professionals working with children (teachers, judges, lawyers, etc.) be introduced in
member states, and that specially trained units be set up by the police and in the courts
to take care of minors who are victims of sexual abuse.
The Assembly asks member states:
to include in school curricula information on the potential risks facing children and
the ways in which they may protect themselves;
to call upon the media to help increase general awareness and to adopt appropriate
The Assembly observes that national action is limited and cannot be effective in
combating exploitation and trafficking in organised networks, and calls upon the member
states to reinforce transfrontier judicial and police co-operation in Europe; it fully
supports the initiatives aimed at improving the Europol system.
The Assembly pays tribute to NGOs and organisations such as Unicef, End Child
Prostitution in Asian Tourism (ECPAT), the National Children's Bureau (London), etc., who
work to inform children and young people and to protect them from sexual exploitation, and
fully pledges its commitment to co-operate and work with them.
Finally, the Assembly renews its proposal to create a European children's ombudsman,
in the framework of the Council of Europe.
 Assembly debate on 25 September 1996 (28th Sitting) (see
report by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, rapporteur: Mrs Err).
Text adopted by the Assembly on 25 September 1996 (28th Sitting).