In 1996, Canadian government delegates, as well as representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) were invited to participate in the first World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Stockholm, Sweden.
Canada went into the conference believing that the biggest concern was Canadian offenders committing acts against foreign children. It became clear, however, that there were many Canadian children abroad who were victims of exploitation as well.
These children were beyond borders—being abused and neglected by foreigners, family members, and the system that was created to protect them. Policies within each government were as complex as the regulations between countries.
Two members of the Canadian delegation decided to do something to help these children. Rosalind Prober, an official observer invited by the Canadian government, and Mark Erik Hecht, a children’s rights lawyer, created a new NGO (Beyond Borders) to bring global justice to children everywhere.
After becoming aware that sexual offenders against children can sexually abuse children abroad with impunity, including Canadian children, Rosalind started working in 1993 to close that loophole in the Canadian Criminal Code.
Her activism resulted in the “Prober Amendment” to Canada’s child sex tourism legislation (1996). This broadened the legislation to include all sexual crimes against children as extraterritorial crimes. Awareness of other inadequacies of the Criminal Code and as well as the gross violations of children’s rights to be free from sexual exploitation led Rosalind to found Beyond Borders in 1996 with children’s rights lawyer, Mark Eric Hecht.
Rosalind is also a founder of Canada’s national tipline to report online sexual victimization, cybertip.ca. Until her retirement in 2015 as president of Beyond Borders, Rosalind led the organization’s growth to become a bilingual, national, volunteer-driven nonprofit working to stop global child sexual exploitation.
Mark Erik Hecht is a lawyer, academic and human rights advocate as well as the co-founder of Beyond Borders. He is currently legal advisor to the Children’s Aid Society and the senior legal counsel to Beyond Borders/ECPAT Canada. Prior to his recent appointments, he was a visiting professor at the University of Ottawa and an assistant professor and the access to justice chair at the University of Windsor. Mr. Hecht’s primary research interest is international child law, specifically the role and involvement of the private sector in the commercial sexual exploitation of children.
Mr. Hecht has sat on the board of trustees for ECPAT International, the Canadian government’s Committee against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth, and the patron board of the Alliance for the Rights of Children. He is the secretary for CINCYR: The Canadian Information Network on Child and Youth Rights.
From 2000-2004, Mr. Hecht was the executive director of Human Rights International, a non-government organization that specializes in human rights networking, research and documentation in the Americas, Asia and Europe. In that capacity, he was a member of the Canadian delegation to the three UN World Congresses against the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and key-note speaker at the UNESCO Meeting of Experts in Paris on the subject of child protection on the Internet. He recently acted as moderator at the Human Rights and the Internet colloquium in Canada and the First Conference of the Americas on Child Pornography on the Internet in Brazil.
Mr. Hecht continues to teach human rights law, family law and Internet law at the University of Ottawa and the Université de Sherbrooke. He also teaches international child law at the University of New South Wales in Sydney and Australian National University in Canberra where he is completing his Ph.D. in law.
Speaking topics: Corporate Social Responsibility, International Child Law