The Hague - The Netherlands.
Europol launches Project HAVEN – Halting Europeans Abusing Victims in Every Nation. The initiative was launched at Europol’s annual meeting of Child Sexual Exploitation Experts and aims to detect and disrupt European travelling sex offenders that exploit local children in destination countries.
While it is almost impossible to know the true extent of the problem given its illegal nature, UNICEF figures estimate that around 2 million children are currently enslaved in the global commercial sex trade. A large majority of individuals engaging in child sex tourism are paedophiles who travel from developed countries to exploit the most vulnerable children, who are generally found in areas of low income. Shockingly, these children can be as young as six or seven years old.
At the expert meeting on 18 November 2010, the results of a situation report drafted by Europol’s Child Sexual Exploitation Group were presented to law enforcement experts from EU and non–EU countries and to practitioners from international organisations and non-governmental organisations.
Under Project Haven, Europol will coordinate a common EU effort to address these crimes of child sexual abuse being committed by European citizens outside their countries of origin. This will include the coordination of international operations run by EU law enforcement authorities, as well as supporting the project through awareness events to discourage potential child sex offenders from abusing children abroad. Furthermore, in the long term, preventive measures such as a permanent notification or alert system should be implemented at Europol in order to trace child sex offenders and limit their illegal and deplorable activities.
Europol Director, Mr Rob Wainwright, commented: "Child sex tourism is an abhorrent violation of the human rights of children and is one of the worst crimes investigated by Europol. The victims are vulnerable children who deserve the protection of society. Europol launches Project Haven as a major new initiative in Europe to crack down on the criminals involved and to alleviate the suffering of children".