Prendergast Hails Eu Law To Tackle Online Child Pornography And Abuse

Labour MEP for Ireland South Phil Prendergast said a new EU
directive on sexual exploitation of children and child pornography is “a
major step forward for the detection and prevention of child abuse”.

The European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday voted for a range of
measures that include:

•        making online “grooming” a criminal offence
•        obliging members states to put in place a regime for deleting or
blocking websites containing images of child pornography
•        obliging member states to provide support to victims
•        minimum penalties for about 20 criminal offences including tougher
sentencing for abusers in a position of trust and coercing a child into
sex acts including prostitution
•        making it an offence for an EU citizen to engage in sex tourism
anywhere in the world

Ms Prendergast said: “This victim-orientated legislation is absolutely
vital if we are to ensure that children are fully protected within the
Union. It is a major step forward for the detection and prevention of
child abuse”.

“In particular, I welcome the provisions for the removal of webpages
containing sexually exploitative material hosted within the EU. They also
oblige Member States to take all possible action to remove material hosted
outside the EU.

“The directive highlights a specific need to protect children from being
solicited through social networking websites and chat rooms.

“Current legislation to protect children from sexual abuse no longer
reflects the realities of 21st century life. Many of our children spend
hours on the internet; they have Facebook pages, they tweet and interact
online, so our legislation needs to be updated.

“The legislation allows for EU Member State authorities to prosecute their
citizens who abuse children, regardless of where it took place. This
provision would go a long way towards combating Child Sex Tourism, as
there would no longer be legal loopholes for the perpetrators of these
crimes to exploit.

“The proposed Directive is also welcome for its recognition that a
children’s relatives are statistically the most likely to abuse that

“In Ireland, this is somewhat of a taboo subject. However, after the raft
of reports and inquiries into child sexual abuse, we need to face the
facts. Children’s rights organisations have concluded that “stranger
danger” is not the most common form of abuse. The most likely person to
abuse a child is someone the child knows and trusts. This proposal
legislates for this as an aggravating circumstance and therefore provides
for more severe sanctions where it occurs.

“Victim protection, as foreseen in this legislation, has been long
awaited. It encompasses not only legal and emotional support for victims
during and after the criminal procedure, but also support for those who
choose not to take part in any trial.

“This legislation is some of the toughest and most important legislation
ever passed in the European Parliament. I fully expect this directive to
be incorporated into forthcoming legislation on child protection being
introduced by Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald.”

Editors’ note: The proposed directive will become law after being signed
off by the Council of Ministers next month. This is expected to be a
formality. Member states have two years to transpose the directive.
Ireland and the UK has already indicated its support for the directive.

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