European Lawmakers Adopt Tough Penalties for Child Porn

Oct 28, 2011 6:00 AM PST

BRUSSELS  — The European Parliament approved new rules that will implement tough penalties for those who view child porn online.

The resolution, which is also aimed at child abusers, was adopted by the European Parliament with 541 votes in favor and two against.

"The new directive to combat sexual abuse and exploitation of children and child pornography is an innovative legislative instrument and a step forward for the protection of our children," said Roberta Angelilli, who steered the legislation through the European Parliament.

The directive will also require E.U. countries to remove child porn websites or allow them to block access to those pages.

The new rules will outline requirements on prevention, prosecution of offenders and protection of victims and E.U. member states will have two years to make the rules into national law.

ASACP Executive Director Tim Henning said the organization supports international government’s efforts to strengthen child pornography laws and that this resolution is a step in the right direction.

“It covers all the major bases and will make it less difficult for E.U. authorities to prosecute these heinous crimes against children,” Henning said. “It will also help to reduce the proliferation and consumption of child pornography content.”

But he added that one  troubling aspect  is blocking suspected website pages when take down measures are not feasible.

“This needs to be completely transparent in order to prevent E.U. territories from blocking legal adult entertainment that may be mistaken for illegal child porn,” he said. “The directive has stated this will be the case.”

The rules set out penalties for about 20 criminal offenses. For instance, coercing a child into sexual actions or forcing a child into prostitution will be punishable by at least 10 years in prison. Child pornography producers will face at least three years, and viewers of online child pornography will face at least one year.

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