– U.S. lawmakers from the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe urged fellow parliamentarians from more than 50 countries to enact comprehensive laws to combat child pornography and prosecute those involved in the multi-billion dollar industry. A U.S.-sponsored resolution on “Combating Trafficking and the Exploitation of Children in Pornography
,” was unanimously adopted and issued in Brussels today.
“Child pornography is a plague that affects every OSCE participating State,” said Helsinki Commissioner Representative Joseph R. Pitts (R-PA). “Currently, those who produce or disseminate child pornography can evade criminal liability by operating in countries with weak laws against child abuse and child pornography.”
On Monday, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s plenary session unanimously approved the resolution cosponsored by Rep. Pitts. Pitts heads the U.S. Delegation in Brussels for the annual meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the 56-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The delegation includes Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), who serves as PA President, Rep. Robert B. Aderholt (R-AL), Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), Rep. Diane E. Watson (D-CA), Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), and Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI).
“As the parliamentary resolution recognizes, the lives of children exploited through child pornography are forever altered,” said Pitts. “First, they are victimized by the sexual abuse involved in producing the pornography. Then, they are re-victimized as the images are irretrievable and potentially viewed forever.”
Pitts called on lawmakers to pass legislation to combat child pornography and strengthen the ability of law enforcement to crack down on networks often operating across borders. The appeal came at a special side meeting convened by the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) to educate parliamentarians on the scope of exploitation and abuse of children through pornography widely distributed via the Internet.
A new study of child pornography released by the ICMEC, surveying laws in 184 Interpol member countries produced alarming results: more than half of these countries (95) have no laws addressing child pornography and in many other countries, the existing laws are inadequate.
“Child pornography is a high profit/low risk business,” concluded Pitts. “The risk of prosecution is low, and the potential to make huge sums of money is high. I urge my parliamentary colleagues to criminalize the exploitation of children in pornography. Only then can we ensure our children are protected.”
In many OSCE countries there remain significant gaps in the existing legal framework that hamper the effectiveness of law enforcement agencies to combat international child pornography networks operating across borders, principally via the Internet.
A survey of the OSCE countries based on the report, Child Pornography: Model Legislation & Global Review, finds that:
- 6 countries lack any laws criminalizing any aspect of child pornography;
- 32 countries lack any legal definition of child pornography;
- 16 countries have failed to make the possession of child pornography a crime;
- 20 countries lack laws criminalizing the distribution of child pornography via computer and the Internet; and
- 50 do not require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to report suspected child pornography to law enforcement.
To date, Belgium, France, and the United States are the only OSCE countries to have enacted comprehensive laws addressing all 5 of these areas.
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the Helsinki Commission, is a U.S. Government agency that monitors progress in the implementation of the 1975 Helsinki Accords.