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Code of conduct for the protection of children and adolescents from commercial sexual exploitation in travel and tourism in Costa Rica


PANIAMOR Foundation in coordination with ECPAT International and UNICRI (the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute) and with the financial support of the Italian Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is executing in Costa Rica the Action against Trafficking in Minors for Sexual Purposes, in order to strengthen the protection of children victims of CST and trafficking for sexual purposes.

The general objective of the program is to use an integrated approach to strengthen the institutional response capacities – in particular those of law enforcement, the judicial system and NGOs – and to train experts to promote anti-trafficking activities.

The project foresees the following activities:

  • To design and implement a database program, within the Judicial System in Costa Rica, specifically in the eight Public Prosecutors Offices specialized in sexual crimes and domestic violence to collect relevant information about crimes related to commercial sexual exploitation of children and trafficking of children for sexual purposes, and to contribute to the efficiency of the judicial processes.
  • To aid victim support personnel in the judicial processes through access of information related to children victims of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking of children for sexual purposes.
  • To train immigration personnel (police and officials) and border police on norms, procedures and existing laws applicable to cases of sexual exploitation and trafficking of children.
  • To launch an information campaign on television and radio directed to communities in Costa Rica, in order to promote the fight against sexual exploitation of children, sexual tourism and the trafficking of children for sexual purposes

protecting them

The child sex tourism is the sexual exploitation of a child by a person or persons who engages in sexual activities with the child while travelling away from their own country or region. This usually involves some form of payment –either cash or items such as food, clothing or trinkets.

The commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) has been recognized as a global phenomenon that impacts millions of children each year in countries on every continent. CSEC is not new, but is growing extent of the issue is worldwide.

The problem of commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents is a demonstrated and growing concern in Costa Rica, as well as in the rest of the Americas, societies where due to the levels of inequity, the fact of being a child or an adolescent entails in itself a risk factor, given the conditions of vulnerability and exposure under which they are placed by its hierarchical social system. Their socio-economic, gender, and age-group conditions increase their vulnerability to mistreatment and sexual abuse, including commercial sexual exploitation.

The protection of children and adolescents against commercial sexual exploitation is a difficult task. It is a complex and multidimensional issue that can be approached from many different angles: repressive measures against the perpetrators; approval and application of better legislation for the protection of minors; rehabilitation of those who have been victims of exploitation; and increasing the educational system’s capacity to contain children and adolescents in order to ensure their place in the schools instead of on the streets.

In order to participate in the project, the company must take the following actions:

protecting them

  • Sign the document The Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children and Adolescents from Commercial Sexual Exploitation in Tourism.
  • Capacitate its staff: the staff should be clear about the directions and policies of the company concerning the protection of minors from commercial sexual exploitation and act as preventive agents in this area.
  • Utilize visible symbols that will alert clients and suppliers about their position against the commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents: posters, announcements, brochures, flyers, stickers, warnings for websites, letterheads, etc.
  • Introduce a clause in contracts with providers of tourist services that declares the common repudiation of commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents.
  • Present an annual informative report about the actions the company has realized for the protection of children and adolescents from commercial sexual exploitation

The Code of Conduct initiative is clearly framed in the worldwide preoccupation for advancing towards a sustainable and responsible tourism, which can contribute to improve the quality of life in the destination countries and to the preservation of their human resources and environment.

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