Liz O'Donnell grants government funding for international conference on child prostitution and trafficking in Bangkok
"Children's rights are human rights. As we enter a new century, the governments of the world must act together with vigour to halt the international trade in childrens' bodies for the sexual gratification of depraved adults." Minister of State Liz O'Donnell TD was speaking at the announcement of various human rights projects to be funded by Irish Aid.
ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography & Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) is an NGO formed in 1991 to campaign against child sex tourism in Asia. Since the World Congress against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children held in Stockholm in 1996, ECPAT has been working internationally with communities, NGOs, governments, law enforcers and the tourism industry. A major conference to evaluate progress and enhance common action is to be held next September in Bangkok.
"Ireland has taken a lead in the battle against the sexual exploitation of children. The Child Trafficking and Pornography Act, 1998 was enacted in June 1998 and came into operation in July 1998. It is a very comprehensive piece of legislation which protects children from trafficking, from one country to another, and, very importantly, also makes it a serious offence to use Ireland as a transit point for this activity" said the Minister.
"In regard to child pornography, the legislation encompasses a clear and comprehenive definition of what is meant by pornography and prohibits its transmission by any medium. Another very significant aspect covered by the Act is the transmission of any information about the availability of children for the purposes of sexual abuse".
"We hope that this legislation might serve as a resource for other governments in their efforts to combat these appalling crimes."
The Bangkok conference is just one of the international human rights projects being funded from a Human Rights and Democratisation budget line of £1.25m for 1999. Other projects granted aid today by the Minister include a women's peace programme involved in conflict resolution in Burundi and projects related to human rights education in Haiti, Guatemala, Peru and Palestine.