|© ECPAT Switzerland|
|Several of the 900 members of the Swiss Federation of Travel Agents sign the ECPAT Code of Conduct in October 2008.|
GENEVA, Switzerland, 2 January 2009 – UNICEF, in partnership with ECPAT Switzerland, has helped to establish the world’s first centralized system for reporting on sex tourists.
The Swiss Federal Office of Police (Fedpol) has introduced a website containing a new form that will be used to collect information about suspected perpetrators. Swiss tourists are also being encouraged by tour operators to speak up if they see anything suspicious when they travel abroad.
“Switzerland is the first country worldwide to create a central reporting office of this kind,” says Head of ECPAT Switzerland Karolina Frischkopf. “This process is particularly important in situations where there are no direct intergovernmental law enforcement treaties.”
“Fedpol has received a few tip-offs since the form was made available,” said the Head of Media Service of the Federal Office of Police Danièle Bersier.
Such tip-offs will be evaluated by the Swiss Inspectorate for Paedophilia and Pornography. In addition, tour operators recently signed the ECPAT Code of Conduct and have produced flyers to hand out to tourists, which encourage them to report suspicious circumstances.
Small travel agencies join the battle
The adoption of the Code of Conduct by the Swiss Federation of Travel Agencies is another milestone in the battle against sex tourism. With 900 active members, this umbrella organization draws together the vast majority of Switzerland’s travel agents. By signing the Code of Conduct this year, the head of the Federation committed to organizing training courses for travel agents, printing information flyers and supporting the predominantly small travel agencies in their attempts to provide information to their customers.
“We are in the process of printing 100,000 flyers, which travel agents will attach to travel documents,” said Andy Keller, who is in charge of implementing the Code within the Federation.
Large travel companies such as Kuoni, Hotelplan, M-Travel and Globetrotter have already signed the Code.
In 2005, M-Travel began to distribute flyers informing all travellers to Kenya that child prostitution is neither legal nor tolerated. The flyer encouraged tourists to report anything suspicious in their hotel. When M-Travel asked a popular hotel to add a clause in their new business contract, which would state that they do not tolerate child prostitution, the hotel refused. In response, M-Travel removed them from their list of hotel partners.
This is exactly the reaction ECPAT Switzerland hopes to achieve in its collaboration with companies and professional associations. The organization trains tour guides and informs and encourages tourists to report cases of sexual exploitation.
Losing major clients
Kuoni also discourages its partner hotels from permitting child prostitution.
“The hotels know that they will lose Kuoni as a major client if even one case of child prostitution is brought to their attention,” said spokesperson Peter Brun.
Such measures are a positive step in the global effort to curb sex tourism and child exploitation.
“Every year, 1.8 million girls and boys worldwide are subjected to prostitution or pornographic filming, and 1.2 million children are sold by child traffickers. These facts constitute a violation of human rights that cannot be tolerated,” said Executive Director of UNICEF Switzerland Elsbeth Müller.
UNICEF's work with protection from child exploitation
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