7 FAM 1730


(CT:CON-947;   11-09-2022)
(Office of Origin:  CA/OCS)


(CT:CON-884;   10-22-2019)

The U.S. Government strongly opposes the exploitation of minors in any form.  The U.S. Department of State has a history of leadership in the international arena combating exploitation.  The consular role in this fight against child exploitation is twofold – first, and foremost, to locate and protect U.S. citizen/national children abroad who are victims of exploitation or are in danger of becoming victims of exploitation, and second, to provide any information on child exploitation in general that comes to your attention in the performance of your official duties, through appropriate reporting channels.

Note:  Child exploitation is often indistinguishable from child abuse.  For example, the use of children for the purposes of pornography or prostitution is, by definition, also sexual abuse.  For this reason, the specific consular activities outlined in 7 FAM 1720 (Child Abuse and Neglect) apply in almost every case of child exploitation.


(CT:CON-947;   11-09-2022)

Child:  Any person under the age of 18.

Child Sex Trafficking:  The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation.  A child is a victim of sex trafficking, for example, when they are induced to engage in prostitution or the making of pornography for the benefit of a third party, without regard to the use of force, fraud or coercion by that third party.

Child Sexual Exploitation:  This is generally defined as involving a child in a sexual act for commercial gain.  Examples include child pornography, child sex trafficking, sextortion, the live streaming of child sexual abuse, and child sex tourism.

Exploitation:  Exploitation can be defined as the act of involving a child for economic or other reasons in criminal activities.  Exploitation may take place at the hands of parents, neighbors, schoolmates, cults, employers, etc.

Exploitation for Fraudulent Purposes:  This involves coercing or otherwise compelling a child to engage in activities that aid or abet the commission of fraud or of another crime.  Examples could include forced begging, a pickpocket using a child as a distraction, a thief or burglar using a child as a lookout, etc.


(CT:CON-884;   10-22-2019)

The consular role in protection of minors and the authority to prosecute persons engaged in child exploitation are derived from and covered in a variety of treaties, laws, and regulations.


(a)  Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR).  Article 5(h) of the VCCR provides that consular functions include protection of the interests of minors of the sending State.

Article 5(h) Vienna Convention on Consular Relations

Consular functions include …

“(h) safeguarding, within the limits imposed by the laws and regulations of the receiving State, the interests of minors and other persons lacking full capacity who are nationals of the sending State, particularly where any guardianship or trusteeship is required with respect to such persons.”

      Article 37 of the VCCR concerns host country responsibilities in the event appointment of a guardian or trustee of a minor or other person lacking full capacity may be necessary.

Article 37 VCCR

“If the relevant information is available to the competent authorities of the receiving State, such authorities shall have the duty:

(b) to inform the competent consular post without delay of any case where the appointment of a guardian or trustee appears to be in the interests of a minor or other person lacking full capacity who is a national of the sending State. The giving of this information shall, however, be without prejudice to the operation of the laws and regulations of the receiving State concerning such appointments.”

(b)  United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United National Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.  See also Summary of the Protocol.  For a list of signatories and ratifying countries see the U.N. status page.  (NOTE: The United States is a party to this Protocol.)

NOTE:  The United States has signed (2000) and ratified (2005) this Protocol.

(c)  The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography.

NOTE:  The United States has signed (2000) and ratified (2002) this Protocol.


(a)  Protect Act:  18 U.S.C. 2423 – Transportation of Minors.

The “Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994", as amended by the PROTECT Act of 2003, makes it a violation of U.S. law for a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) to travel abroad for the purpose of engaging in any illicit sexual conduct with another person.  This has been codified at 18 U.S.C. 2423(b).  18 U.S.C. 2423(c) further makes it a crime for a U.S. citizen or LPR to engage in any illicit sexual conduct with another person in a foreign country, regardless of whether there was intent.  The penalty for those convicted under the PROTECT Act is a maximum sentence of 30 years for each offense.  Illicit sexual conduct, as defined in 18 U.S.C. 2423(f), means (1) a sexual act as defined in 18 U.S.C. 2246 with a person under 18 years of age that would be in violation of chapter 109A if the sexual act occurred in the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States;(2) any commercial sex act (as defined in 18 U.S.C. 1591) with a person under 18 years of age; or (3) production of child pornography (as defined in section 2256(8)).

(b)  Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000, as amended, 22 U.S.C. 1701 et seq. Children in prostitution are victims of sex trafficking regardless of force, fraud, or coercion.

22 U.S.C. 7102(9) Severe forms of trafficking in persons

The term "severe forms of trafficking in persons" means-

(A) sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such act has not attained 18 years of age; or

(B) the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.


22 U.S.C. 7102 (10) Sex trafficking

The term "sex trafficking" means the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, obtaining, patronizing, or soliciting of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.


22 U.S.C. 7102(15) Victim of trafficking

The term "victim of trafficking" means a person subjected to an act or practice described in paragraph (9) or (10).



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There are a wide range of government entities and private organizations and interests that play an important role in attempting to halt the exploitation of children.  They include, but are not limited to:

a. U.S. Department Of State

(1)  Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA):  Office of American Citizens Services and Crisis Management, Directorate of Overseas Citizens Services, Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA/OCS/ACS) has the lead role in dealing with individual cases of child exploitation involving private U.S. citizens/nationals.  CA/OCS/CI, the Office of Children’s Issues, is responsible for international parental child abduction and international adoption.  While the issues sometimes overlap, CA/OCS/ACS has primary responsibility for this issue in Consular Affairs.

(2)  Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS):  Regional security officers (RSOs) provide investigative support and liaise with host government police authorities in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  RSOs promptly report to DS/DSS/IP (Diplomatic Security Service, International Programs) and DS/CR/CIL (Criminal Investigations Division, Criminal Investigations Liaison Branch) any requests for assistance on PROTECT Act investigations.  RSOs are notified by post consular sections of any U.S. citizen arrests by local authorities on possible PROTECT Act violations.  RSOs subsequently advise DS/CR/CIL via email of those incidents for tracking purposes with ICE.  See ICE Operation Predator.

(3)  Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (J/TIP) leads the U.S. government’s global engagement on human trafficking; compiles the Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report; pursues policies, programs, and partnerships to combat human trafficking, including child labor trafficking and child sex trafficking; and supports the Secretary of State in their role as Chair of the President’s Interagency Task Force to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and interagency anti-trafficking work.

b. Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE):  ICE is a lead federal agency investigating cases related to child sex tourism and pornography, alien smuggling and human trafficking.  See ICE Operation Predator.

ICE has created a smartphone app – the first of its kind in U.S. federal law enforcement – designed to seek the public's help with fugitive and unknown suspect child predators.


The Operation Predator app enables users to receive alerts about wanted predators, to share the information with friends via email and social media tools, and to provide information to Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) by calling or submitting an online tip.  Additionally, the app allows users to view news about arrests and prosecutions of child predators and additional resources about ICE and its global partners in the fight against child exploitation.

c.  U.S. Department of Justice

(1)  Criminal Division, Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS) is part of the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice. In connection with the 94 United States Attorney´s Offices around the country, CEOS investigates and prosecutes violations of federal law related to child pornography, the prostitution of children, extraterritorial sexual exploitation of children, international parental kidnapping, and obscenity.  Additionally, CEOS has jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute individuals who fail to register as sex offenders pursuant to the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA), and child abuse and child support enforcement matters in limited circumstances.

d. Federal Bureau of Investigation

(1)  FBI Violent Crimes Against Children Unit (VCAC): The FBI’s VCAC program usually responds to incidents of crimes against children using multi-disciplinary and multi-agency teams (Child Explorations Task Forces -CETF) to investigate and prosecute crimes that cross legal, geographical, and jurisdictional boundaries. These investigations priorities include violations of Federal statutes relating to kidnappings, such as non-ransom child abductions and domestic and international parental kidnappings; sexual exploitation of children; child sex trafficking, production and/or transportation of child pornography/obscene material; contact offenses against children (VCAC Unit does not investigate contact offenses against children); other crimes against children within the FBI's jurisdiction; and physical/sexual abuse of a child on a government reservation.

(2)  FBI Innocent Images National Initiative (IINI): An FBI program, IINI investigates online child pornography and other forms of child sexual exploitation. The IINI enforces statutes involving possession, production, and/or distribution of child pornography facilitated by an online computer; interstate travel for sexual activity with a minor.

(3)  Innocence Lost National Initiative (ILNI): A combined effort with FBI and NCMEC to address domestic sex trafficking of children.  The ILNI also works to identify those suspected of child sex tourism.  ILNI targets organizations involved in child sex trafficking using the enterprise theory of investigation.  ILNI was implemented in June 2003, a joint initiative with Department of Justice Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and FBI.

e. For a comprehensive overview of efforts to combat child exploitation, see the Department of Justice National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction (April 2016).


(CT:CON-884;   10-22-2019)

There are a wide variety of international organizations working to combat exploitation of children.  Among the many such organizations, a few are highlighted here.

(1)  INTERPOL:  The General-Secretariat of Interpol established a Standing Working Party (SWP) in 1991 to bring together law enforcement experts in child exploitation from the member countries in an effort to coordinate investigations of child abuse, child pornography, sex tourism, and trafficking in children for sexual purposes.  The SWP meets twice a year and has produced numerous recommendations for best practices in combating child exploitation which have been adopted by the General-Secretariat.  In addition, the SWP has produced an investigator’s manual for child exploitation investigations.  See Interpol:  Children and Human Trafficking and Interpol:  Crimes Against Children.

(2)  International Association of Prosecutors (IAP):  DOJ/CRIM/CEOS (Criminal Division, Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section) has been a prominent participant in the International Association of Prosecutors efforts to establish best practices and guidelines for the protection of children.  For example, CEOS chaired an IAP group that developed guidelines for protecting children from exploitation via the Internet.  In addition, CEOS focuses on the trafficking in women and United States efforts to combat this problem, as well as the international legal standards to combat trafficking in persons.

(3)  National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC):  NCMEC is designated by Congress to serve as a national clearinghouse on issues related to missing and exploited children.  NCMEC created the CyberTipline to serve as a centralized reporting mechanism for the public and electronic service providers to report suspected child sexual exploitation.  In 1996 the U.S. Congress established the Exploited Child Unit (ECU) within NCMEC.  The ECU serves as a resource center for the public, parents, law enforcement, and others about the issues surrounding the sexual exploitation of children. NCMEC’s Child Victim Identification Program (CVIP) was launched in 2002 to enable NCMEC staff to track child pornography images of children previously identified by law enforcement.  NCMEC’s Child Sex Trafficking Team (CSTT) was launched in 2011 to further streamline the ability to make connections between cases of reported online child sex trafficking and active missing child cases.  See NCMEC Child Sexual Exploitation; Cybertip Line:  Your Resource for Reporting Sexual Exploitation of Children.

(4)  ECPAT:  Organization to End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography, and the Sexual Exploitation of Children (ECPAT).  ECPAT is a nongovernmental organization that coordinates research, advocacy, and action to end the commercial sexual exploitation of children.


(CT:CON-884;   10-22-2019)

CA/OCS and posts abroad have experience with child exploitation involving U.S. citizen/national victims and perpetrators, including the use of the Internet to lure minors abroad and then subject them to sexual exploitation.  We have also seen cases of U.S. citizens/nationals residing abroad placing photographs of their own children on the Internet on pornography sites.  In addition, we are aware of reports of groups of U.S. citizens/nationals abroad using their children as a source of income for the group through pornography and/or child sex trafficking.  See Online Sexual Exploitation of Children:  An Alarming Trend.

7 FAM 1736.1  U.S. Citizen/National Victims of Child Exploitation

(CT:CON-947;   11-09-2022)

In most, but not all, instances of child exploitation, the circumstances generally permit a consultation with CA/OCS/ACS and L/CA before taking any specific action.  This does not preclude you, as the consular officer, from taking appropriate action immediately if you believe the circumstances pose an imminent danger to the child’s health or safety.  Except in a situation involving imminent danger, a consular officer who learns that a U.S. citizen/national child is possibly being exploited should take the following actions:

(1)  Ascertain Status:  Confirm through post records or other means whether the child is, in fact, U.S. citizen/national.  (If the child is a member of the official U.S. Embassy/Consulate community notify the RSO immediately and see 3 FAM 1810 Family Advocacy Program.)  If not, take the following steps:

(2)  Report To Department:  Consult with CA/OCS/ACS and, if necessary, L/CA.  Gather pertinent information including:

(a)  Full name, date, and place of birth (DPOB) of child;

(b)  Passport record or other citizenship information;

(c)  Names, DPOB, and citizenship of parents or guardians;

(d)  Name, DPOB, and citizenship of the alleged exploiter if they are not a parent or guardian;

(e)  Source of allegations of exploitation;

(f)   Brief description of the alleged exploitation;

(g)  Indicate whether the case involves a single U.S. citizen child only or a U.S. citizen child in a group of non-citizen children also being exploited.  If a group of victimized non-U.S. citizen children, including a U.S. citizen, include J/TIP as an action addressee; and

(h)  Current information on social services and child protective services available to nationals and foreigners in the host country.

(4)  Recommend Action:  Recommend possible courses of action based on your knowledge of the case and your experience with local officials, etc.  Your proposed actions should include a recommended timetable, and could include:

(a)  Performing a welfare/whereabouts check at the child's home, school, or worksite;

(b)  Informing the appropriate local authorities, such as social workers, labor officials, medical personnel, and law enforcement agencies of the allegations; and

(c)  Obtaining all possible documentation of the exploitation such as available statements from persons who have observed the exploitation, abuse or injury to the child, police reports, medical records, etc.  (Depending on the case, post should prepare a cable to CA/OCS/ACS, and include as much factual information as possible.  Use CASC tags.)

(5)  Take Privacy Considerations into Account:  Because of the sensational aspects of such cases and privacy concerns, do not take action without Department approval except in cases where the child’s health or safety is in imminent danger.  See 7 FAM 1736.3 regarding the Privacy Act and Child Exploitation.  If action is taken without following the above steps, further action may be required to comply with the Privacy Act.  Please contact L/CA.

(6)  Take Approved Action:  Take the action approved by the Department, closely monitoring the situation and reporting all developments to the Department through CA/OCS/ACS.

7 FAM 1736.2  U.S. Citizen/National Alleged Perpetrators of Child Exploitation

(CT:CON-884;   10-22-2019)

Consular officers should be especially alert to individuals in their district who may have violated U.S. laws prohibiting the exploitation of children.  If you have information that a U.S. citizen/national or lawful permanent resident violated or may have possibly violated the foregoing sections of the U.S. Code concerning the exploitation of minors, you should provide this information immediately to the regional security officer (RSO).

7 FAM 1736.3  Privacy Act and Child Exploitation

(CT:CON-909;   04-27-2021)

a. The Privacy Act covers records about U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs), including minors.  Under the Privacy Act, a U.S. government agency may not disclose records in its possession about a U.S. citizen without the person’s prior written consent or another legal basis such as a "routine use" (see this section's paragraph c).

b. You may disseminate such information to DS on a need to know basis (the intra-agency condition of disclosure).  In the interest of keeping the consular role separate from law enforcement's role, you should provide information regarding child exploitation immediately to the RSO so that the RSO can take the necessary measures to ensure that the proper law enforcement officials are notified.

c.  A Department "routine use" published in a System of Record Notice ("SORN") in the Federal Register authorizes consular officers to release Privacy Act-protected information to a law enforcement agency, whether foreign, Federal, State, or local, (1) where there is reason to believe that an individual has violated the law; and (2) to the extent necessary for such agency to investigate or prosecute the violation or enforce or implement the relevant statute, or rule, regulation or order.  See "Prefatory Statement of Routine Uses," Department of State (July 15, 2008).

d. Another routine use, for OCS records, permits disclosure "to domestic, international, and foreign law enforcement agencies in connection with law enforcement issues and health, safety and related matters, including child adoption and abduction cases, custody disputes and notification of next of kin."

e. Disclosure of Privacy Act information in response to law enforcement requests is not mandatory and should be made only as and when appropriate.  You are not required to, nor should you, allow "fishing expeditions" into consular records.  In addition, you should not comb through your files in search of individuals who may or may not have violated or potentially violated U.S. law.

f.  Questions regarding the Privacy Act may be addressed to L/CA.  L/CA is the component of CA/OCS responsible for Privacy Act issues.  You may also consult your country officer in CA/OCS/ACS.


7 FAM 1737.1  Reporting Child Sex Tourism

(CT:CON-884;   10-22-2019)

a. Federal law prohibits an U.S. citizen or resident from traveling to a foreign country with the intent to engage in any form of sexual conduct with a child.  It is also illegal to help organize or assist another person to travel for these purposes.  This crime is a form of human trafficking, also referred to as child sex tourism.

b. If you become aware of foreign visitors who in engage child sex tourism or child sex trafficking, address a reporting cable with the significant details to CA/OCS/ACS.  Include CASC, CJAN, KCRM, and ASEC tags.  Posts should also alert the RSO.

7 FAM 1737.2  Country Specific Information

(CT:CON-884;   10-22-2019)

Work with CA/OCS to determine the advisability of entering an appropriate caution in the Country Information for your post. Language could include:

(1)  The fact that traveling abroad for the purpose of engaging in any illicit sexual conduct with another person is a violation of U.S. law, and can result in extradition to, or arrest upon return to, the United States;

(2)  The fact that such conduct is against local law, if this is the case, and the probable penalties.

7 FAM 1737.3  Department Publications and Other Sources of Information

(CT:CON-884;   10-22-2019)

There are a variety of Department of State publications concerning child exploitation, including:

·         CIVILIAN SECURITY, DEMOCRACY, AND HUMAN RIGHTS, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

·         National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)

·         Department of Justice Child Exploitation Obscenity Division

·         Federal Bureau of Investigation Victim Services Division

·         Fact Sheet – Online Sexual Exploitation of Children:  An Alarming Trend (June 27, 2017)

·         Department of Justice National Strategy for Child Exploitation Prevention and Interdiction (April 2016)

·         Brochure – To End Child Sex Tourism:  Fighting Trafficking in Persons (September 2, 2004)

·         Fact Sheet – Ending Child Sex Tourism:  Fighting Trafficking in Persons (September 2, 2004)

·         Fact Sheet - The Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography (December 24, 2002)

·         Be Smart, Be Safe (January 2001)

·         See also the Department of State Internet home pages for:

·         Consular Affairs, Child Protection Services

·         Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

7 FAM 1738  And 1739 UNASSIGNED