Green MEP for London, Jean Lambert has today welcomed the introduction of new proposals to crack down on child abusers and viewers of child sex images on the internet, including a mandatory obligation on Member States to remove web sites containing child pornography.
Following a successful vote in the European Parliament, the directive will require Member States to promptly remove any child abuse websites hosted in their jurisdiction and to endeavour to obtain their removal if hosted outside their territory. In addition, Member States may block access to such websites but must follow transparent procedures and provide adequate safeguards to ensure that restriction is limited to what is proportionate and necessary.
The new Directive, aimed at combating sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, will introduce tougher EU-wide requirements on the prosecution of offenders, especially in cases of abuse by persons in a position of trust, authority or influence over the child. For instance coercing a child into sexual actions will now be punishable by at least ten years in prison. Convicted child sex offenders could also be temporarily or permanently prohibited from working with children anywhere in the EU.
Furthermore, Member States must exercise jurisdiction over their nationals travelling abroad for child sex tourism, a historic first in EU legislation. The Directive will also put in place preventive measures against advertising travel linked to abuse.
Jean, who served as Shadow Rapporteur for the Directive and is a member of the European Parliament Civil Liberties Committee, said: “I am delighted that today’s report on this most difficult of subject matters has been passed by the European Parliament, following long and occasionally arduous negotiations. Protecting the rights of children is an objective of the EU both internally and in its relations with the wider world, and it is imperative that we put in place robust measures to make this aim a reality.
“I particularly welcome the proposal to allow employers to request information about potential employees from other Member States for organised activities with children but this must be properly controlled by law. We should not forget that there is a lot at stake here for both the safety of children and the protection of individual adults. I also welcome the additional support provisions for victims, as child abuse can have tragic consequences for many throughout their lives.
“The proposals concerning the takedown of child abuse websites are equally crucial. Our priority must always be to protect children, primarily by dealing with offenders, but there remain legitimate concerns that measures employed for this crucial objective become co-opted for other purposes of state control. Therefore the solution reached in this Directive, mandatory removal and blocking permitted with sufficient safeguards is important and deserves support.”