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Comments by UNICEF Sweden on Sweden’s initial report on the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography Introduction UNICEF Sweden welcomes the opportunity to comment on Sweden’s first report on the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (Optional Protocol). Over the past few years, UNICEF Sweden has enhanced the work of child rights in Sweden. One of our prioritized issues has been the rights of children victims of trafficking. In order to better secure the respect of the rights of these children, the overall aim of our work has been to ensure a full and comprehensive implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in the Swedish legislation and application. UNICEF Sweden notes with appreciation that the Swedish government has taken several measures in order to combat the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. However, UNICEF Sweden would like to call attention to some areas of concern. The remaining fact that children victims of trafficking are not enough protected and that their rights are not fully respected is alarming. We believe that these children who are in a particularly vulnerable situation need more attention from Swedish authorities and other professionals. This implies measures in terms of legislation, training of decision makers and allocation of resources. The following report will only cover the areas relevant for our work, mainly on the sale of children. The headlines below correspond with the Government Report. I. Statistics The participation of many actors makes the crime of human trafficking a well organized crime. For this reason it is very difficult to assess the extent of human trafficking. UNICEF Sweden remains however preoccupied with the lacking available data on the number of children victims of trafficking, both brought to Sweden and within Sweden. The official Swedish statistics do unfortunately not capture the true scale of this crime, compromising effective policy-making, resource mobilization and increasing the risk of further exploitation. Questions and suggestions for recommendations from UNICEF Sweden to the Committee to the Swedish Government Why are the official statistics so poor?
We recommend the Swedish Government to improve the official data collection regarding the crime of human trafficking. III. General measures of implementation Action Plans UNICEF Sweden welcomes the latest updated version of the National Action Plan against sexual exploitation of children and agrees with the Action Plan’s purposes and preventive measures. We also welcome the Action Plan against prostitution and human trafficking for sexual proposes. However, we expect to see a more rapid implementation regarding its five main areas: increased protection and support for the vulnerable, reinforced preventive work, reinforced quality and efficiency in the judicial system, increased national and international cooperation as well as increased knowledge. Stronger Government commitment is needed to prevent and combat the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. The following includes improved implementation and making resources available for police and other Swedish authorities. Questions and suggestions for recommendations from UNICEF Sweden to the Committee to the Swedish Government Why is the Action Plan against human trafficking limited to sexual purposes? Why has the Swedish Government not yet adopted an Action Plan against trafficking for all purposes? What happened with the implementation of the training programmes after the Action Plan? We recommend the Swedish Government to promptly adopt an Action Plan against trafficking for all purposes. It is necessary to further increase knowledge about the purposes of this crime as well as finding effective measures covering these different purposes. Legislation UNICEF Sweden believes that a greater protection for children and young people from sexual exploitation is needed. UNICEF Sweden has made comments and suggestions on the Government’s evaluation of the 2005 sexual offences reform circulated for consideration. In our comments, we have emphasized the importance of a stronger protection for children aged between 15 and 18, and for children victims of trafficking. UNICEF Sweden notes with appreciation that the crime of human trafficking in the Swedish Penal Code has been expanded to cover other forms of exploitation than for sexual purposes, such as forced labour. We also note that the requirement of “having control” is not longer required.
UNICEF Sweden would like to reiterate that neither the CRC nor the two optional protocols have become part of the Swedish judicial system. Some provisions in the CRC and the Optional Protocol have been transformed into the Swedish law by various legislative measures. However, UNICEF Sweden believes that the principles and provisions in the CRC and its two optional protocols would be considered more seriously in the judicial system if they were incorporated as such into the Swedish legislation and therefore became Swedish law. The present method of transformation is not enough. For a realisation of the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, UNICEF Sweden
believes that it is necessary to further strengthen its status. If the CRC and its two optional protocols would be incorporated as a whole into the Swedish legislation, their principles and provisions could be directly invoked before the courts and applied by national authorities. This would also promote a holistic approach of children and child protection engaging different actors involved in protecting children’s rights. Despite the reforms in the Swedish legislation, the transformation of different laws in Sweden is still needed in order to ensure that all relevant domestic legislation is brought into compliance with these international provisions. Questions and suggestions for recommendations from UNICEF Sweden to the Committee to the Swedish Government Why is the Swedish Government still reluctant to fully incorporate the CRC and its optional protocols into the Swedish legislation? We encourage the Swedish Government to incorporate the CRC and its optional protocols into the Swedish legislation, as has been recommended by the Committee in previous reports. This would imply a need to consider the CRC not only article by article, but also holistically, recognizing the interdependence and indivisibility of children’s human rights. This would also enable the Government to better fulfil its obligations stipulated in the CRC. A transformation of different laws is still needed to ensure that all relevant domestic legislation is brought into compliance with the CRC. V. Prevention and detection Article 9.1- Prevention programmes Collect and disseminate knowledge UNICEF Sweden notes that improvements have been made regarding the dissemination of knowledge about sexual exploitation of children to relevant professional groups such as the police. We would nevertheless like to reiterate the deficiencies that exist with respect to inter-agency collaboration and competence on children’s needs and rights. In order to detect children who are exploited in human trafficking, knowledge that these children seldom view themselves as victims of human trafficking is required. As we have stated in our previous report to the Committee on Sweden’s implementation of the CRC in 2007, many children are in a relationship of dependency to the human traffickers and see no alternative but to be loyal to them. These children do very seldom, if at all, talk about their situation or ask for help. Appropriate legal powers and resources for the agencies concerned are strongly needed. New legislation on adults’ contacts with children for sexual purposes (grooming) UNICEF Sweden welcomes the adoption of a new crime on adults’ contacts with children for sexual purposes called contact with children for a sexual purpose, targeted on contacts with children through the Internet. These contacts make sexual abuse possible during meetings with the child. The aim is that this provision will further strengthen the protection for children against sexual abuse over the Internet. V. Prohibition and related matters (articles 3; 4, paragraphs 2 and 3, 4, 6 and 7)
Articles 3.1.a I and 3.2 and 3.3 – Sale of children Human trafficking UNICEF Sweden welcomes the measures that the Swedish government has undertaken in order to combat trafficking in Sweden. We note with satisfaction the adoption of the National Action Plan, as we recommended to do in our comments on the Swedish Government’s 4th report to the Committee in 2007. UNICEF Sweden welcomes the changes made in the Penal Code regarding the crime of human trafficking. The criteria of “having control” over the victim as well as the requirement for double criminality for human trafficking offences committed abroad have been removed while broader trafficking measures have been introduced. UNICEF Sweden hopes that these changes will strengthen the protection of victims of trafficking, including children at risk of being involved in trafficking. However, we still believe that there should be a special provision in the Penal Code on trafficking in children in order to better protect these children in accordance with the provisions in the CRC and the Optional Protocol. UNICEF Sweden would also like to underline the fact that human trafficking remains an area of huge concern and more needs to be done in practice. We believe that there must be a stronger political will to prioritize measures to better prevent trafficking and to reinforce the support of the victims of trafficking. In this regard, closer cooperation between authorities such as the police, the welfare service authorities and the Migration Board is necessary. Questions and suggestions for recommendations from UNICEF Sweden to the Committee to the Swedish Government Why has the Swedish Government not yet adopted a specific provision on trafficking in children in the Swedish Penal Code? We recommend the Swedish Government to adopt a specific provision on trafficking in children. All children under the age of 18 in Sweden must be given absolute respect and protection. Article 3.1.c including 3.2 and 3.3 – Child pornography UNICEF Sweden welcomes the broader definition of a child in the penal provision of child pornography, covering a person whose pubertal development is not complete or who is less than 18 years of age. However, the age limit of 18 years only covers the production of child pornography and not other dealings. UNICEF Sweden notes with appreciation that the Swedish child pornography penal provision includes numerous dealings with child pornography, including viewing. However, the provision is limited to covering pictures of all kinds, excluding texts and sounds depicting sexual abuse of a child. Today, the crime of child pornography is criminalized under chapter 16 in the Swedish Penal Code, which covers crimes against public order. UNICEF Sweden believes that this provision should be included under chapter 6 dealing with sexual offences. Child pornography is a sexual offence against the dignity of a child, a degradation of children and a violation of their rights. Children have the right to be protected against all sorts of assaults and exploitation. The best would be to have a
specific chapter covering all sexual crimes against children. UNICEF Sweden believes that this would further strengthen the protection of children against sexual offences and make the provisions more lucid and coherent. Questions and suggestions for recommendations from UNICEF Sweden to the Committee to the Swedish Government Why does the provision of child pornography only cover pictures and not texts or sounds? Why does the crime of child pornography remain under chapter 16 in the Swedish Penal Code dealing with crimes against public order instead of under chapter 6 dealing with sexual offences? We recommend the Swedish Government to extend the provision of the crime of child pornography to also cover texts and sounds. We also encourage the Swedish Government to adopt a specific chapter covering all sexual offences against children, including the crime of child pornography. Article 4 – Jurisdiction UNICEF Sweden notes with appreciation that the requirement for double criminality for human trafficking offences committed abroad has been removed. However, UNICEF Sweden would like to reiterate that the Swedish Government has the obligation to adopt the provisions in the CRC and its optional protocols, enhancing the protection of child rights towards all children within its jurisdiction. In this regard, we would like to stress the importance of incorporating the CRC and its optional protocols into Swedish legislation, giving all children within Swedish jurisdiction equal rights. Questions and suggestions for recommendations from UNICEF Sweden to the Committee to the Swedish Government Why is the Swedish Government still reluctant to fully incorporate the CRC and its optional protocols into the Swedish legislation? We encourage the Swedish Government to incorporate the CRC and its optional protocols into the Swedish legislation. This would enable the Government to better fulfil its obligations stipulated in the CRC towards all children within Swedish jurisdiction.
VI. Protection of the rights of victims (articles 8 and 9, paragraphs 3 and 4) Article 8.4 Training Training programmes relating to prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes In spite of existing action plans and policies, knowledge for professionals on sexual exploitation of children and on children’s needs is still relatively low. UNICEF Sweden believes that there is a need of awareness-raising among decision makers about trafficking and the extreme vulnerability of the victims. Training programmes on how to protect the rights of these children and how to speak and communicate with them are important. We welcome the training programmes that have been implemented for prosecutors and the police. However, more programmes are needed, in particular within the Swedish judiciary. Training for judges Crimes against children and the question of children’s exposure to abuse and exploitation imply a need for stronger competency for decision makers. Several individual cases reveal a lack of understanding for children’s rights and needs. In this regard, UNICEF Sweden would like to see a stronger child rights approach within the Swedish judiciary. As far as customs and practices are concerned, it is also important to focus on changing attitudes and behaviours to better enable the fulfillment of children’s rights. We therefore advocate more training programmes based on a child rights approach. We find this crucial since these decisions and judgments many times have a direct impact on children. Questions and suggestions for recommendations from UNICEF Sweden to the Committee to the Swedish Government What kind of training do judges and other officials who deal with child related cases get on children’s needs and rights? We encourage the Swedish Government to improve the training programmes regarding children’s rights and needs within Swedish authorities, particularly within the judiciary. Knowledge about human trafficking for other purposes than sexual exploitation is limited. Knowledge about domestic human trafficking (i.e. children residential within Sweden) is also very limited. In this regards we recommend the Swedish Government to give more resources for search and investigation, especially to the police and social services. Competence in the social services UNICEF Sweden has written, in collaboration with the National Board of Health and Welfare, a reference guide on protecting the rights of children who might be victims of trafficking entitled Kan det vara människohandel? (Can this be human trafficking?). This information was distributed to relevant agencies and organisations between 2008 and 2010 with funds from the Swedish Government. UNICEF Sweden also organized seminars and workshops for those who may come into contact with children exposed to human trafficking. The aim has been to better prevent and
combat the crime of child trafficking and to draw attention to the existing deficiencies of interagency collaboration and competency on children’s rights and needs. We recommend that the Swedish authorities continue to use this and other relevant training materials produced by civil society in training of professionals.
Stockholm 24 March 2011 UNICEF Sweden
Véronique Lönnerblad Executive Director
Christina Heilborn Head of Advocacy
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