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The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography (OPSC) is a legally binding international treaty that supplements the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on May 25, 2000, and entered into force on January 18, 2002.

The OPSC is designed to strengthen and reinforce the protection of children from various forms of exploitation, including their sale, prostitution, and involvement in pornography. It establishes specific obligations for state parties to prevent and combat these crimes and to provide assistance and support to child victims.

Key provisions of the OPSC include:

  1. Criminalization and Punishment: State parties are required to criminalize the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography under their domestic laws. They must establish appropriate penalties for these offenses.
  2. Jurisdiction and Extradition: States are expected to establish jurisdiction over these crimes when they are committed within their territory or by their nationals abroad. They should also cooperate in extradition or prosecution of offenders when requested by other states.
  3. Prevention: State parties are obligated to take measures to prevent the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography. This includes raising awareness, providing education, and promoting social and economic measures to address the root causes of these crimes.
  4. Protection of Child Victims: The OPSC emphasizes the need to provide appropriate support and assistance to child victims, including their physical and psychological recovery, social reintegration, and protection of their privacy.
  5. International Cooperation: The treaty encourages international cooperation among states to prevent and combat these crimes effectively. It calls for information exchange, technical assistance, and coordination of efforts to ensure the effective implementation of the OPSC.
  6. Reporting Obligations: State parties are required to submit periodic reports on the measures they have taken to implement the provisions of the OPSC to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, a body of independent experts monitoring the implementation of the CRC and its protocols.

By ratifying the OPSC, states commit themselves to taking concrete actions to prevent and respond to the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography. They are expected to align their domestic laws and policies with the provisions of the protocol and work towards the complete elimination of these egregious violations of children’s rights.

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