In October 2018, It’s a Penalty finalised their extensive Research Mapping Report which maps the extent of extraterritorial legislation against CSEA and improvements to be made to existing legislation amongst Commonwealth states. The research which informed parts of the report was produced in partnership with the Commonwealth Secretariat and Latham & Watkins.

Findings of the Report

Overall, the report found that a relatively low number of Commonwealth Member States have enacted extraterritorial legislation to combat the sexual abuse and exploitation of children by offenders when travelling abroad. Predominantly, the few laws, which are in place, contain inconsistencies, and many difficulties have been encountered in their implementation. While some states have introduced extraterritorial legislation that is fully comprehensive, evidently there is still much room for improvement across the Commonwealth.

In Summary

  • Only 10 Commonwealth Member States have sufficiently comprehensive extraterritorial legislation against CSEA in place. Even when such legislation has been introduced by states, reported prosecution rates are low and information available to the public is limited.
  • 25 Commonwealth Members States lack extraterritorial legislation against CSEA in any form. Furthermore, many of these states’ domestic legislation against CSEA is insufficient. Therefore, children in these countries are legally unprotected from abuse and exploitation both at home and abroad.
  • 18 Commonwealth Member States have insufficient extraterritorial legislation in place, meaning that it needs improving or elements changed in order to be fully comprehensive. These improvements to be made include:
    • the removal of limiting conditions such as dual criminality or statutes of limitations;
    • the changing of ages of majority and ages of consent in line with the international standard (18);
    • the extension of criminalisation to include all forms of CSEA;
    • the extension of extraterritorial jurisdiction over anti-CSEA laws.

Key Measures to Prioritise:

Enact comprehensive legislation against CSEA with extraterritorial jurisdiction over both citizens and residents, which is not subject to a statute of limitations and does not rely on a condition of dual criminality;

Harmonise ages of consent and majority in line with international recommendations (18);

Increase political will to pursue prosecutions of CSEA offenders, both who have offended overseas and domestically;

Ensure adequate human, financial and technical resources for investigative and prosecutorial proceedings with regards to cases of CSEA;

Conduct awareness-raising activities and campaigns to combat the stigmatisation of victims of CSEA in society and communities;

Establish, publicise and maintain a national three-digit 24/7 helpline for child victims and concerned members of the public which is free to use and staffed by trained counsellors;

Develop child-friendly justice systems and services;

Dedicate improved amounts of resources for the training of relevant personnel dealing with victims of CSEA;

Ensure the development of programmes and policies which target the prevention of CSEA, and recovery and social reintegration for victims;

Establish mechanisms, procedures and guidelines to ensure proper handling and mandatory reporting of cases of CSEA;

Strengthen regional and international cooperation in investigations and arrests, information- and expertise-sharing on convicted travellers, and mutual legal assistance.