Press release - 209(2009)

Toledo conference aims to improve how judicial systems can protect children from violence and sexual offences

Toledo (Spain), 12.03.2009 – Representatives of Council of Europe members states, including several Ministers of Justice, and experts today started to analyse in an international conference in Toledo how to improve the protection of children in European judicial systems, in particular with regard to violence and sexual offences.
On 10 March, two days prior to the conference, Greece became the first state to ratify the Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, which was opened for signature in Lanzarote in 2007. In a ceremony held before the opening, Spain and Georgia signed the treaty, which will enter into force when 4 more states ratify it. 34 have signed it but not ratified it yet.
The conference on “The Protection of Children in European Justice Systems” examines how to combat all forms of violence against children, notably through the legal framework, by enhancing the role of the private sector in the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse of children, and by developing standards for civil and criminal proceedings adapted for children.
Maud de Boer Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe, said "justice must not only be done, it must also be understood by children.  We want to promote the rights of information, representation and participation of children in judicial as well as extrajudicial procedures and to deal with the place and voice of the child before as well as during procedures, and following judicial decisions".

Francisco Caamaño, Minister of Justice of Spain, said that “the legal protection of children is a priority for the Spanish Government” and called on Council of Europe member states to sign and ratify the Convention on Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse. He also underlined the Spanish Government´s commitment with the Council of Europe in the protection of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

The conference is jointly organised by the Council of Europe and the Spanish Ministry of Justice within the programme of the Spanish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the organisation.

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Additional information

The 2007 Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse aims to prevent sexual offences against children, prosecute the perpetrators and protect the victims. It is the first international treaty to criminalise sexual abuse, an offence usually committed by an aggressor who know the victim. Research shows that 1 to 2 people in every ten have been sexually abused during their childhood. The convention includes measures such as:

    · Screening, recruitment and training of persons working in contact with children
    · Making children aware of the risks and teaching them to protect themselves

    · Intervention measures for offenders and potential offenders.
    · Programmes to support victims
    · Setting up telephone and internet helplines for children
    · Criminalising sexual abuse - all cases where a person engages in sexual activities with a child below the age of consent or using force or threats; child prostitution and pornography; and the solicitation of children for sexual purposes, including Internet grooming;
    · Combating child sex tourism, by ensuring that offences can be prosecuted even when the act is committed abroad.
    · Protecting the identity and privacy of the child victims during judicial proceedings, and adapting them to their needs.

Press contact

Jaime Rodríguez, Council of Europe press division; Mob. +33 (0)6 899 95 042,

Council of Europe Directorate of Communication
Tel: +33 (0)3 88 41 25 60
Fax:+33 (0)3 88 41 39 11