Commission reports on Member States' measures to combat child sexual abuse online

On 16 December 2016, the European Commission adopted two reports on the measures taken by Member States to combat the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography.

One report covers the entire Directive whereas the other report focuses on the measures against websites containing or disseminating child pornography (Article 25 of the Directive).

Sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children produce long-term physical, psychological and social harm to vulnerable victims who have the need and the right to special protection and care.

Online child sexual abuse is a nefarious crime with long-term consequences for its victims: harm is caused not only when abuse is actually recorded or photographed, but also every time the images and videos are posted, circulated and viewed. For the victims, the knowledge that the images and videos in which they are abused are ‘out there', accessible to anyone, is a major source of trauma and additional suffering.

A major step to fight these crimes was the adoption in 2011 of Directive 2011/93/EU on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, a comprehensive legal framework which covers investigation and prosecution of crimes, assistance to and protection of victims, and prevention.

The reports present a first overview of measures taken by Member States to transpose the Directive into national law. The reports show that, although the Directive has led to substantial progress, there is still considerable room for improvement, in particular with regard to prevention and intervention programmes for offenders, the assistance, support and protection measures for child victims and the provision of adequate safeguards when the optional blocking measures are applied.

The European Commission will continue working to support Member States in their implementation of effective measures against these crimes, to ensure that children benefit from the full added value of the Directive. These reports constitute a first step, which will be followed by the assessment of conformity of national measures with the Directive. Where necessary, the Commission will take appropriate action and make use of its enforcement powers under the Treaties.

More information can be found on the European Commission website.

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