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20.01.2006 Travel & Tourism

Child Sex Tourism: Punishing the Culprits and Compensating the Victims

By Tsikata, P.Y.

Just as multinational businesses, the internet (the most globalizing agent) and other globalizing agents have submerged the borders of the nation-state and increased human interconnectedness, so has child sex tourism grown and expanded across the borders of the nation-state. The modus operandi of perpetrators of these heinous crimes is so sophisticated and very evasive. Therefore, dealing with them involves the cooperation of different national institutions with different institutional and operational policies and approaches. But, in the comity of nations, goodwill among neighbors, nations with common pedigree, for example, the commonwealth and other international organization like the UN remain largely the only hope for mankind with his steadfast dedication to defeating this social evil wherever it occurs.

Due to this goodwill among nations, the United Nations on November 20, 1989, unanimously adopted the convention on the rights of the child. Regarded as the most significant of all international instruments on the rights of the child, many of the signatory countries base their legislation against child sexual exploitation on this convention, which consists of 54 Articles. Emphatic among these articles is Article 34, which enjoins states to take all appropriate national, bilateral, and multilateral measures to protect and prevent the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.

The United States Congress in 1994 18 U.S.C. 2423 (b) criminalizes the act. The Brits followed suit with the Sexual Offence Act 2003 and so did other Developed Countries and countries where sex tourism has become a serious social canker.

Today, the widely publicized prosecution of Alexander Kilpatrick, under the British Sexual Offence Act 2003, with the cooperation of some international investigators demonstrates the international consensus and resolve in pursuing offenders to wherever they hide.

Whilst most Ghanaians would have preferred the trial of this man on Ghanaian soil as a way to publicize the case locally to ward others off from engaging in similar acts, there has been a great relieve among most people that, at least, justices was done in a way of prosecution.

With all that said, the issue of compensation built around the theory of restorative justice (Criminal Justice) in which the victim receives some type of restitution from the offender is a matter of course.

British legal Provisions establishing the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority-Parliamentary Act 1996 and 2001 and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 1995-make it possible for sexually abused children under the age of 18 to benefit from a compensation scheme provided the act occurred in Great Britain-that is, England, Scotland and Wales.

These acts, in fact, do not make any provision for the compensation of children who suffer sexual abuse from British citizens who travel abroad to abuse non-British nationals and in other nations. The implication, therefore, is that whereas those children in Britain who suffer in the hands of these felons receive compensations, the poor African child carries on in his life of misery without any form of compensation. I stand to be corrected, if there are any welfare schemes in any part of the continent to compensate these victims.

This situation leaves a yawning gap in the dispensation of justice -punishing the culprit and compensating the victims-to all the affected children with some level of uniformity.

The United States has already taken the lead in convicting two California men on child sex tourism in the Philippines and ordered them to pay restitutions to their victims in what are believed to be among the first monetary awards imposed in such cases (US Immigration and Customs Enforcement September 14, 2005).

It is in the light of the above development that this writer believes that it is within the powers of the international community to move beyond punishing offenders to that point where international consensus could be reached to compensate children abused in the poor countries by offenders who in most cases come from the developed nations. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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