ECPAT, a network of organizations including ECPAT-USA working to tackle the sexual exploitation of children, has been presented with a prestigious award by the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) at a ceremony held in Lyon, France today.
The “Crimes Against Children” Award from INTERPOL’s Crimes Against Children team recognizes the more than two decades that ECPAT has worked to prevent child sexual exploitation and advocate for its victims – particularly through programs to confront trafficking for sexual purposes; the exploitation of children through prostitution and pornography; online child sexual exploitation; and the sexual exploitation of children in the travel and tourism sector.
“This award is a recognition of the excellent work done by ECPAT to end the sexual exploitation of children around the world,” said Bjorn Sellstrom, head of INTERPOL’s Crimes Against Children team. “We look forward to continuing our joint efforts with ECPAT to protect the most vulnerable members of society from abuse and further develop awareness of this global issue.”
Accepting the award, Dorothy Rozga, ECPAT’s Executive Director, paid tribute to the organization’s 103 members working in 93 countries. “Through research, advocacy, the provision of direct services to children, awareness raising and campaigning - members of the ECPAT network are making a positive difference to the lives of children. Due to the clandestine nature of child sexual exploitation, reliable data is difficult to come by. Nevertheless, we know that the number of victims is huge and that very often these children suffer in silence.”
ECPAT-USA Executive Director Carol Smolenski said, "ECPAT is proud to receive this important award from INTERPOL. We work with stakeholders throughout the United States including law enforcement, the private sector, legislators and policy makers and other NGOs. Last week, ECPAT-USA gave New York Police Department Commissioner James P. O’Neill its annual Defender Award for the big strides that the NYPD has made in protecting exploited children."
Rozga emphasized that over the years ECPAT has learned the importance of involving all stakeholders in addressing the crime of child sexual exploitation. “It is absolutely essential to adopt a multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach,” she said. “We work with a wide range of actors, from the private sector - including hotels, Internet and tech companies, travel agents, airlines - to governments, the UN, and other NGOs. This is why we place such a high value on our collaboration with INTERPOL and other law enforcement agencies.”
Previous recipients of the award have included Mads Nielsen, a world leader in victim identification helped to safeguard hundreds of children, and Anders Persson, the father of the INTERPOL International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) image database.
ECPAT International works with INTERPOL on a range of projects to fight the sexual exploitation of children including by:
- Collaborating with the Crimes Against Children regional teams providing support on request
- Helping INTERPOL to prepare confidential briefings for the Convention on the Rights of the Child – which has helped inform states on emerging issues
- Serving alongside INTERPOL on a range of advisory boards, one of the most important being the We Protect Global Alliance – which is working worldwide to stop the crime of online child sexual abuse and exploitation.
ECPAT International is a global network of organisations dedicated to ending the sexual exploitation of children. With 103 members in 93 countries, ECPAT focuses on the trafficking of children for sexual purposes; the exploitation of children through prostitution and pornography; online child sexual exploitation; and the sexual exploitation of children in the travel and tourism sector. The ECPAT International Secretariat is based in Bangkok Thailand.
ECPAT-USA’s mission is to protect every child’s basic human right to grow up free from the threat of sexual exploitation and trafficking. We envision a world in which no child is bought, sold, or used for sex. More than 25 years ago, ECPAT-USA became the first U.S.-based nonprofit to work on the issue of commercial sexual exploitation of children. ECPAT-USA started with sex tourism, helping to get legislation passed that ensured that Americans who traveled abroad to buy sex with minors could be prosecuted in the US for sexually exploiting children in other countries. Six of the ten largest international hotel chains—including Hilton, Wyndham and Hyatt—have signed on to ECPAT’s program to prevent sex tourism, as have Delta and American Airlines.
INTERPOL’s role is to enable police in our 192 member countries to work together to fight transnational crime and make the world a safer place. We maintain global databases containing police information on criminals and crime, and we provide operational and forensic support, analysis services and training. These policing capabilities are delivered worldwide and support three global programmes: counter-terrorism, cybercrime, and organized and emerging crime.
(PHOTO CREDIT: INTERPOL HQ)