Crimes against children include, inter alia, the sexual abuse of children, the trafficking of children and crimes concerning child abuse images on the Internet. Eurojust plays an active role in tackling this growing and particularly heinous form of crime, by enabling efficient cross-border coordination between different States. The Agency supports judicial authorities in detecting links with cases in other countries and facilitates cooperation among the respective authorities with a view to prevent further victimisation of children and to identify and prosecute offenders. A Contact Point for Child Protection is appointed by Eurojust to act as a focal point for its efforts in this field.
Crimes against children
Since its establishment, Eurojust has played an active role in tackling crimes against children in close cooperation with agencies such as Europol and Interpol. By facilitating effective cross-border coordination and cooperation between States, the Agency helps national authorities to detect potential cross-border links between cases, improve the flow of information, and exchange relevant information with a view to identify and prosecute offenders.
In addition to its casework, the Agency works to develop awareness within this crime area, starting with the collection of statistics on Eurojust cases involving serious crimes against children. Further, Eurojust is a member of the ‘European Financial Coalition against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Online’, and was involved in the process leading to the adoption of the Directive 2011/93/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, which lays down common minimum rules for Member States concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in the area of sexual exploitation of children.
Eurojust’s work in this field is facilitated by its designated Contact Point for Child Protection who serves as a focal point and centre of expertise for serious cross-border crimes committed against children. The role of the Contact Point is performed by a National Member with the support of a small, dedicated team, and involves the following key tasks:
representing Eurojust in child protection and related matters, and ensuring Eurojust has access to best practice in the field;
following the work of national authorities, law enforcement organisations and other bodies in the field of child protection;
advising other National Members on possible tools and handling measures to use in their casework when dealing with investigations concerning children, such as witness and victim protection and Interpol’s database on missing children;
maintaining a constant and updated statistical overview of all relevant cases dealt with in Eurojust; and
advising the National Desks at Eurojust on the classification of the different types of criminality related to children.
Travelling child sex offences
Travelling child sex offences, or ‘Child sex tourism’, is a particularly challenging area of child abuse, in which Eurojust’s contribution is well recognised. Crimes involving EU citizens may take place in third countries where offences are not categorised as a specific crime, which can hamper investigations and attempted prosecutions. Member State authorities may also lack knowledge of the local judicial and cultural environment, making cross-border cooperation especially challenging.
In September 2011, Eurojust held a tactical meeting on travelling child sex offenders. The goals of the meeting were to identify the most common challenges faced in judicial cooperation in the fight against travelling child sex offenders, and to suggest possible solutions. The main outcomes of the tactical meeting are summarised in the following report.