ASIA: Mind the Gaps: A Comparative Analysis of ASEAN Legal Responses to Child-Sex Tourism

Mind the Gaps is the outcome of research into the laws of South East Asia relating to child-sex tourism. Mind the Gaps examines all ten Member States of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) – Brunei Darussalam, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. This research was requested by our government partners to assist national action and enable regional comparisons to enhance the legal response to this abhorrent crime. As the first such comparative report, Mind the Gaps will be useful for a range of stakeholders, including governments, law enforcers, international agencies, NGOs, and academics.

Key Findings

· ASEAN Member States have ratified a number of relevant international treaties to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation. However, some significant gaps remain.

· ASEAN Member States are party to a number of international and regional instruments that enhance the policy and legal framework to protect children from child-sex tourism.

· The Philippines is currently the only ASEAN Member State that expressly mentions sex tourism in its legislation. However, the national laws of all ASEAN Member States cover the major categories of sex offences against children – albeit to varying degrees. In the absence of laws expressly criminalising child-sex tourism, laws relating to sex offences against children are relevant and must be strengthened and enforced.

· To improve the legal response to child-sex tourism, ASEAN Member States should ensure national laws: fully align with relevant international instruments; criminalise all forms of child sexual exploitation and abuse; criminalise sexual exploitation through new technologies; provide a consistent definition of a child; criminalise acts that assist or facilitate child-sex tourism; criminalise attempts and preparation to commit child child-sex offences; strengthen bilateral and regional cooperation to ensure successful prosecution; provide proportionate sentencing and appropriate sanctions; protect children and other witnesses throughout all stages of investigations and legal proceedings; and provide services and long-term support to child victims.




Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.