Sexual abuse of children is unfortunately not a new phenomenon. The vast increase in the number of cases unveiled in Council of Europe member states at the beginning of the 21st century is not due to the fact that children are less respected today, but rather to a rising awareness of their rights which enables victims to speak out.
The Parliamentary Assembly welcomes this strong awareness of the need to protect children which has resulted in firm legislation and strong policies in many countries. However, statistics show that there are still far too many incidences of child abuse occurring in various settings, including the wider family environment of children, child care or educational institutions, or in the context of new information and communication technologies. It is thus high time to step up action - at all possible levels - to protect children, placing a strong emphasis on prevention strategies and victim protection.
The Assembly thus welcomes the new Council of Europe Campaign to stop sexual violence against children, which will be launched in Rome on 29-30 November, and whose parliamentary dimension the Assembly will organise. Parliamentary action will be particularly important in order to promote the signature, ratification and implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (“Lanzarote Convention”), including – eventually - through child’s rights based monitoring mechanisms.
The Assembly calls on parliaments and governments of Council of Europe member states, as well as local and regional authorities and NGOs, to join and support the campaign. Parliamentary action and follow-up is crucial to the success of the campaign. The Assembly thus resolves to regularly review the achievements of both the parliamentary and the governmental dimension of the campaign.