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Monday, 3 August, 1998, 04:08 GMT 05:08 UK
Clampdown on child sex tourism
Robin Cook
Robin Cook on an earlier visit to the Philippines
The UK Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, has announced new measures to clampdown on child sex tourism where paedophiles, usually from rich western countries, travel abroad to exploit youngsters.

Governments, charities and police from 25 Asian and European countries will meet in London in October to consider ways of sharing intelligence on paedophiles and tackling the poverty that drives children into prostitution.

According to Mr Cook, one of the measures that will be discussed is the creation of a new Website that will enable the authorites concerned to exchange the latest information.

The announcment was made in London on the eve of the Asia-European (Asem) meeting.

"This new Asem initiative will enable us to pool our experience and expertise and strengthen the fight against child abuse and the evils of child sex tourism," Mr Cook said.

"We will let each other know when sex abusers travel so that we can prevent them from abusing children away from home.

"We will look at a Website to keep each other up to date and give everyone access to the latest developments."

Sex tourism poster
Victims think some governments have turned a blind eye
According to reports, children's charities say that a million children enter the global sex market every year and that in Asia alone more than 650,000 children under the age of 16 work as prostitutes.

The latest announcement builds on a ground-breaking pact last August between Britain and the Philippines on co-operation between police forces.

British police have provided training for Filipino officers in Manila in identifying and countering child prostitution and pornography and have run similar courses in Thailand and Sri Lanka.

The Philippines Foreign Minister, Domingo Siazon, said he hoped the October conference would help to "uplift and improve the lives of our children."

He said: "The intention is to go to the root causes as to why children are tempted to join, or forced into, this kind of business.

"This means we will have to look at poverty, education and training...and this is why the participation of non-governmental organisations is extremely important."

Thailand and Philippines main target

Anti-sex tourism poster
Campaigners' feelings are running high
Mr Siazon said up to 40,000 Filipino children were involved in child prostitution.

In Thailand, up to 400,000 children under the age of 16 are believed to be working in brothels, clubs or bars, according to campaigners.

A Christian Aid spokesman, Jack Arthey, also welcomed the announcement. "The international trade in children's bodies must be put to an end

"The critical thing about this initiative is that governments in Europe and Asia are coming together and jointly approaching the problem. That is very significant progress."

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