Advocating for the Protection of Children from Exploitation and Abuse in the Commonwealth and Beyond

The Problem
We Need
to Address


Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (CSEA) is an increasingly global human rights issue, described by some as a global humanitarian crisis. No country is immune to CSEA.

All children could potentially become victims of this exploitation and abuse. However, some are more at risk of being victimised than others. CSEA has an immense effect on every victim; the legacy of such exploitation and abuse is vast, and those who have been abused or exploited are often afflicted with severe physical, emotional and psychological damage for the rest of their lives.

Often, CSEA is committed by offenders extraterritorially (whilst travelling abroad). Unfortunately, these abusers can then escape prosecution by returning to their home country – where national police forces are unable to prosecute due to lack of jurisdiction overseas.

To find out more about how extraterritorial legislation protects children and provides justice when enacted, CLICK HERE

A Solution

In order to prevent the exploitation and abuse of children worldwide, it is crucial to deter potential offenders. An effective deterrent is the possibility of prosecution.

Comprehensive extraterritorial legislation is one of the key tools in combating these crimes against children on a worldwide scale. It allows legal authorities to hold citizens and residents accountable for crimes committed abroad and to undertake prosecution in their country of origin.

Where extraterritorial legislation against CSEA exists, it has led to multiple convictions of offenders who were travelling overseas and exploited vulnerable children. It decreases the likelihood of those who commit crimes against children escaping legal punishment, while sending a clear message to potential offenders.

It’s a Penalty Advocacy Project

By enacting and enforcing extraterritorial legislation against CSEA in all Commonwealth states, we can ensure that all children of the Commonwealth are protected from being abused and exploited by travelling offenders.

It’s a Penalty advocates for the protection of children from exploitation and abuse in the Commonwealth and beyond with the following aims:

The enactment of comprehensive extraterritorial legislation against CSEA, and introduction of adequate safeguarding and reporting mechanisms, in as many Commonwealth states as possible.

Increased reporting of crimes by victims and the public, accompanied by improved awareness amongst the public of the existence of legislation against CSEA committed by offenders from overseas.

Increased knowledge and use by governments of technical assistance and information to enforce legislation and pursue prosecutions.

Strong, child-friendly and swift justice for those who have been abused or exploited.

Who are we working with to achieve this change?


Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (CSEA): Physical abuse of a child, such as rape; sexual assault or other physical contact of a sexual nature with a child; grooming a child as a precursor to sexual activity; the exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual exploitation; the making, sharing or viewing of indecent images and videos of children (National Crime Agency, 2016).

Extraterritorial CSEA: Offenders committing crimes of CSEA whilst travelling overseas (often referred to as child sex tourism).

Extraterritorial Legislation against CSEA: Provisions in law, which allow countries to prosecute their residents and/or citizens for the abuse of children if the offence takes place abroad.


Every year, over 1.8 million children are exploited and abused in the global sex trade (UNICEF, 2005).

Predominantly, victims of CSEA are girls, although many boys are also victimised (ILO, 2004).

The majority of victims are between 13-18 years old, although the under-13 victim population is growing (Terre de Hommes, 2016).