Juan Miguel Petit, the Commission's Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, writes in the document that the treatment of child victims of trafficking, especially when they are placed in protective custody, has a punitive effect. "Apart from the injustice of treating exploited children as criminals", he states, "there are other serious consequences for children. Being part of a legal process is traumatic for any child, but when the child in question is considered to be in conflict with the law and possibly subject to penal sanctions, this trauma is compounded".
In some cases, states the Special Rapporteur, sex offence legislation is discriminatory. Laws only recognize the rape, sexual exploitation or prostitution of females, leaving boys with no legal protection. Some legislation criminalizes underage sex with members of the opposite sex, which means that where the act is performed with children of the same sex, the child is not protected.
The Special Rapporteur notes that awareness about trafficking, child sexual abuse and exploitation is increasing in many regions of the world, and many States have recently introduced new strategies and legislative amendments to tackle these problems. Penalties for those trafficking other persons are becoming stiffer and criminal liability for crimes against children generally is being strengthened.
The report focuses on the legal consequences of the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, particularly on the criminalization of child victims, and recent national policy and legislative developments to address these concerns. It also focuses briefly on illegal or coercive adoptive practices which have the effect of selling a child, and on HIV/AIDS.
Posted on 2003-04-30