Ahead of the European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, celebrated every year on 18 November, the General Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Campaign to End Immigration Detention of Children, Doris Fiala (Switzerland, ALDE) made the following statement:
“Tomorrow is a very important day as we mark the European Day on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse.
We know that migrant children are faced with serious risks on their way to a safe place. While travelling great distances from their homes, in search of a secure environment, they may become victims of some of the worst forms of violence like sexual violence, sexual exploitation, trafficking. Ultimately, many of them face detention, where they are placed in overcrowded facilities, small cells, often with single men who are complete strangers to them.
In the past year, there have been extremely worrying reports on cases of incidents of sexual abuse in some of the centres where migrants were. We need to be constantly reminded of the particular vulnerability of the child, who is sometimes not even able to report abuse.
It is therefore extremely important to ensure a secure environment for children. Member States need to undertake effective measures to provide them special protection, ensure that they are put in a safe, secure and appropriate accommodation, with their families or legal guardians and not detained behind bars. Protecting migrant and asylum-seeking minors is our obligation. The Council of Europe has the necessary instruments which provide guidelines for children’s protection. One of these instruments is the Lanzarote Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, signed by all member States of the Council of Europe and ratified by 41.
I therefore call upon those member States, who have not yet ratified this Convention, to do so and all states to fully implement it and take all the necessary steps to protect children, prevent sexual violence, protect child victims and prosecute perpetrators.