Understanding how Europe is protecting children from sexual abuse and exploitation

Missing Children Europe, ECPAT and eNACSO have launched a report that examines the transposition of Directive 2011/93/EU on combating sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography by 27 EU Member States.

Studies suggest that between 10-20% of children in Europe are sexually assaulted during their childhood. This phenomenon is not decreasing and certain forms of sexual violence are becoming a matter of growing concern. The Internet has made it easier to “groom” children or to produce and distribute child sexual exploitation material. Children portrayed in pornography are getting younger and the images are becoming more graphic and more violent.

Sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children are heinous crimes that have severe and long term negative effects on the children involved.

The Together against sexual exploitation of children project was set up to examine the ways in which seven key provisions of Directive 2011/93/EU have been transposed by the 27 EU Member States which are bound by it. The project is run by ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking in Children for Sexual Purposes), eNACSO (European NGO Alliance for Child Safety Online) and Missing Children Europe (European Federation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children).

The report is the culmination of this 3-year project.  The seven key provisions in question are:

> to criminalise the ‘knowingly obtaining access, by means of information and communication technology, to child abuse images’

> to criminalise online grooming

> to set up systems for disqualification arising from convictions, make screening by employers possible and ensure the exchange of information concerning criminal records

> to take measures to enable investigative units to attempt to identify child victims of online abuse;

> the extraterritorial extension of jurisdiction

> to provide for assistance, support and protection measures for child victims

> the taking of measures against websites containing or disseminating child abuse material

The main objective of the project was to compare the choice of ‘methods and strategies’ developed by Member States in order to achieve the binding results defined by the Directive[1] and to assess them based on the best interests of the child[2].

The analysis hopes to expose the different ways and methods selected by the Member States for achieving the objectives set by the Directive, thereby identifying good practices but also possible loopholes, lacunae or open questions.

Partners in this project wish to contribute to protecting children from the gross violation of their rights related to these crimes.

[1] In accordance with Article 288 of the Treaty of the Functioning on the European Union

[2] Interests of the child should be the primary consideration for Member States as indicated by Article 24 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union.

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