Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 33 n° 335

Child sex crimes

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 14 luglio 2011

The draft directive sets out minimum penalties for about 20 criminal offences to do with sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and child pornography – far more than are usually provided for in EU legislation. The draft has been agreed with the Council of Ministers representatives, subject to Parliament’s plenary vote in September 2011. MEPs fought for tougher penalties across the EU, especially in cases of abuse by persons in a position of trust, authority or influence over the child (e.g. family members, guardians or teachers) or abuse of particularly vulnerable children (e.g. those with a physical or mental disability or under the influence of drugs or alcohol). Offenders could face penalties ranging from one to at least ten years in prison, depending on the crime (since the draft directive lays down only minimum penalties, Member States could impose harsher measures and sentencing). For instance, causing a child to witness sexual activities could be punishable by one year in prison, and coercing a child into sexual actions by ten. Attending pornographic performances involving children could by punishable by at least two years in prison, and forcing a child into prostitution by at least ten. Child pornography producers could face at least three years in prison, whilst those possessing it would face at least one year.
Parliament’s negotiating team have, from the outset, advocated complete removal of web pages containing or disseminating child pornography. These web pages must be removed, they say, as blocking access to them, as initially proposed by the Commission, has proved not to be entirely effective. Moreover, removal at source would be more reassuring for children, given that images to which access is merely blocked could still be somewhere in cyberspace, they add.
New forms of abuse and exploitation, such as on-line “grooming” (befriending children via the web with the intention of sexually abusing them) or making children pose sexually in front of web cameras, would be a crime. “Sex tourists” travelling abroad to abuse children would also face prosecution, under new rules on jurisdiction. The text introduces the concept of “child sex tourism” for the first time in EU legislation. Since some 20% of sex offenders go on to commit further offences after conviction, the text stipulates that convicted offenders “may be temporarily or permanently prevented from exercising at least professional activities involving direct and regular contacts with children”. MEPs have also strengthened rules on assisting, supporting and protecting victims, e.g. to ensure that they have easy access to legal remedies and suffer as little as possible from participating in criminal investigations and trials.
The agreement is to be put to the vote by Parliament as a whole at the September II plenary session and should be formally adopted by the Council of Ministers shortly thereafter. Once adopted, this directive will replace current EU legislation dating from 2004. Member States will have two years to transpose the new rules into their national laws. The UK and Ireland have notified their wish to take part in the adoption and application of this directive. Denmark is the only Member State not taking part.

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