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OSCE States to Intensify Efforts to Combat Sexual Exploitation of Children

WASHINGTON – Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ), Chairman and Co-Chairman, respectively, of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission) praised the decision of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) participating States to strengthen international efforts to combat sexual exploitation, in particular child pornography and sex tourism.  This decision follows a July 2006 OSCE Parliamentary Assembly resolution championed by members of the Helsinki Commission that called for increased cooperation to combat such pernicious crime.

“This ministerial decision is a great step forward in recognizing the scope of the war we are fighting to protect our children,” said Senator Brownback.  “The blight of child pornography cannot be erased until each country does its part to shut down safe havens for those who exploit the most vulnerable among us.”

The high-level decision, adopted in Brussels at the meeting of the foreign ministers of the 56 OSCE countries, provides political impetus for enhanced cooperation between these nations as well as intensified work by the organization.  The decision recognizes that the sexual exploitation of children is a “grave and large-scale problem throughout the OSCE region.”  It calls on the participating States to conform their legislation to international norms and to take all legal measures to prosecute the sexual exploitation of children.

“I want to thank the countries of Belgium and France who worked closely with the United States in developing a comprehensive package to combat these forms of exploitation,” commented Rep. Smith.  “In addition, this work would not have been possible without the vital contribution of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC).”

The Helsinki Commission initiative was introduced based on 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.

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
• 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.

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