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Japan: Offences Against Children

Volume 477: debated on Thursday 12 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has made to the governments of (a) Japan, (b) Thailand, (c) Cambodia and (d) Vietnam on the prevention of child sexual abuse and paedophilia in those countries. (208568)

The UK has made no direct representations to Japan. Home Office Minister, the noble Lord West of Spithead, will raise sexual exploitation of children during the Group of Eight leading industrialised nations (G8) Justice and Home Affairs ministerial meeting from 11 to 13 June.

Our embassy in Bangkok organised and funded a training course earlier this year on requirements and best practice used in covert internet investigations into sexual exploitation of children online. Twelve police officers from Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore took part. The training was conducted by two British police officers from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP). This training enhanced the trainees' ability to interact covertly online and conduct investigations for the purpose of gathering evidence admissible in a court of law. It also encouraged the building of informal and working contacts among police officers from the region.

Our embassy in Bangkok has also recently concluded a three-year project working with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the Thai Government to improve access to birth registration and citizenship among ethnic minority “hill tribes” in remote areas of Thailand. Lack of birth registration and citizenship has been identified by UNESCO as the primary causal factor behind the trafficking of “hill tribe” girls.

We have raised the issue of child sex abuse and paedophilia at the highest level in government with the Government of Cambodia, who have introduced new legislation on trafficking and sexual exploitation of children. I discussed these issues in detail with non-governmental organisations in Phnom Penh on 7 June.

Our embassy in Phnom Penh has worked over a number of years in close collaboration with the Government of Cambodia and the UK's CEOP. This has included organising cooperation and officers from the Cambodian National Police to build capacity and raise awareness of this global problem.

We are working in partnership with international organisations, such as the UN Children's Fund and the World Health Organisation, to tackle the causes of child sex exploitation. Our work in Cambodia has been recognised as a model of excellence for the region with some of the mechanisms for tackling child sex abuse established in Cambodia being mirrored elsewhere, including in Vietnam and Thailand.

Our embassy in Hanoi works closely with the Vietnamese Government to tackle child sexual exploitation in Vietnam. In February 2007 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) funded a delegation led by the Vietnamese Police Commissioner to visit child protection organisations in the UK. As a direct result of that visit, Vietnam established a specialised unit for child sex offences in their General Department of Police. In March 2007, the FCO organised a roundtable between Vietnam's Ministry of Public Security and the UK's CEOP to develop a joint action plan for capacity building measures in Vietnam. Under that plan, the FCO funded a training seminar run by CEOP in Hanoi in December 2007, an attachment by two Vietnamese officers to CEOP offices in London in February 2008 and in-situ training in Lao Cai and Ba Ria Vung Tau provinces in February and March 2008.