In recent years we have seen an increase in the numbers of travelling sex offenders, that is, individuals who travel to foreign countries in order to abuse the children there.
The relative wealth of the offender coupled with lack of understanding or absence of legislation, means that the abuse of children is easier in these countries. However, the effects both long and short term are no less grave.
This type of crime is often facilitated by organized criminal networks. Clear links have been made between so-called "sex tourism" and other serious crimes such as child trafficking and murder.
What INTERPOL is doing
INTERPOL's main tool for dealing with travelling sex offenders is the Green Notice.
A Green Notice is issued to provide warnings and criminal intelligence about persons who have committed criminal offences and are likely to repeat these crimes in other countries. It is an effective way to share key police intelligence on a global scale and to prevent offenders from crossing borders.
As well as working to prevent these crimes from taking place in the first place, we coordinate joint operations between multiple countries to track down offenders. Support to these operations includes training, briefings, the sharing of data, intelligence analysis and technical advice.
Additionally, we assist with the identification of victims, particularly through the use of the International Child Sexual Exploitation image database
The INTERPOL Specialists Group on Crimes Against Children has a full sub-group dealing with this issue. This brings together experts, drawn from all parts of the world, to share best practice and information on the many facets of the problem, such as the apprehension of sex offenders, their treatment and management within the community.
This type of crime is much more than a law enforcement issue, which is why we work closely with other agencies and NGOs in this area. In terms of geographical focus, the INTERPOL liaison office in Bangkok is particularly active in this area, given the high numbers of sex offenders who travel to Asia.
Most people travel to Southeast Asia to experience the exotic culture and lifestyle, but there is also a more sinister side to the tourist trade. Children are trafficked and enslaved, to be sexually exploited by a small group of visitors who come to take advantage of the illicit sex trade in the region.
Project Childhood brings together INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and World Vision to address and combat the issue of child sexual exploitation and trafficking in the Greater Mekong region.
The Project takes a dual approach to fighting the sources of child exploitation in the travel and tourism sectors, through prevention and protection. Working from its Liaison Office in Bangkok, Thailand, INTERPOL’s role focuses on the protection side, in partnership with the UNODC.
The Organization works with law enforcement agencies in the affected countries to strengthen their abilities to identify, arrest and prosecute traveling child sex offenders, and offers its tools, expertise and support for tactical operations targeting the criminal networks behind child sexual exploitation. The UNODC focus on the delivery of technical assistance activities responding to key legislative, training and cooperation gaps and needs of the target countries.
On the prevention side, partners are working with governments and local communities in the region to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation, promote tourism alternatives that do not exploit children, and support the young victims.
Greater regional and international cooperation is key to bringing an end to child exploitation, and INTERPOL is working to equip local law enforcement with the tools and skills necessary for fighting this growing type of crime. The Project also offers the opportunity to improve intelligence gathering and to enhance INTERPOL’s International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) image database.
Project Childhood is funded by a EUR6 million contribution from the Government of Australia through its overseas aid programme, AusAID.
By November 2015, the ICSE database had helped identify some 7,800 victims around the world.
INTERPOL's International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) database
8 steps to identifying victims of child sexual abuse
Child abuse material and the Internet: Cyberpsychology of online child related sex offending
by Aiken, M., Moran, M., & Berry, M. J. (2011)