ID :
Wed, 08/20/2008 - 17:29
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BANGKOK, Aug 20 (Bernama) -- Despite some progress in recent years in addressing the problem of sexual abuse of children in East Asia and the Pacific, much more needs to be done to address child exploitation as the region remains a hot spot, experts said.

Anupama Rao Singh, UNICEF's Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific, said the region's governments need to take their anti-exploitation efforts toanother level and push through much tougher anti-child sex measures.

"Progress has been made but the fact is that East Asia and the Pacific continue to be hot spots where large numbers of children are exploited," said Anupama at the end of "East Asia Pacific Regional Preparatory Meeting for the world Congress III against Sexual Exploitation of Children andAdolescents".

The two-day meeting was held to feed recommendations to an upcoming world summit on the issue in Rio de Janeiro from Nov 25 to 28, where more than 3,000 participants are expected to map out action that has been taken to combat sexualexploitation of children.

Amihan Abueva, chairman of Ecpat International, a non-governmental organisation focused on ending child prostitution, pornography and trafficking, said all countries were affected by these issues in various ways and there wasno single approach which suits all.

"For example, despite the focus being on tourists from abroad, we shouldhighlight that the majority of the offenders are local men," Abueva said.

During the two-day meeting, hundreds of experts, government officials and young activists from around the region discussed a set of time-bound goals and targets to mitigate the issues of child prostitution, trafficking, cyber crimesand abuse in travel and tourism.

Shigeru Mochida, the deputy executive secretary of United Nations' Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, said while acts of commercial sexual exploitation were acts of violence, as well as violations of humanrights, they were not always treated as crimes.

Among the goals and targets includes setting up child sex offender registries in each country to ensure child abusers are monitored and prevented from travelling abroad to abuse young people in other nations, as well as have extra-territorial laws in place to ensure nationals who abuse children abroad,if necessary, are returned to their home country to face prosecution.

Participants also spoke on the need to protect children accessing the Internet and want all countries to have specific laws to criminalise all forms of child pornography, including its production, dissemination and possession and ensure internet service providers introduce effective blocking and filteringservices to prevent such images being hosted online.