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Child pornography not a crime in most countries : Study

Written by: Staff

Washington, Apr 7 (UNI) A study of child pornography laws in 184 Interpol member countries around the world has produced alarming results with more than half of these nations having no laws against child pornography and many others having inadequate legislation.

The study conducted by the International Centre for Missing&Exploited Children (ICMEC), in collaboration with Interpol, found that in 138 countries, the possession of child pornography is not a crime. In 122 countries, there is no law which specifically addresses the distribution of child pornography via computer and the Internet.

"Currently, the laws around the world are alarmingly insufficient to fight this epidemic," said Baron Daniel Cardon de Lecture, Chairman of the Board of ICMEC.

"This is simply not acceptable. It is time for the leaders of every country to act. Our commitment is to work with them to bring about real change and eradicate this terrible problem," he said.

"People need to understand that each and every time an image of a child being sexually assaulted is traded, printed, or downloaded, the child depicted in the photo is re-victimized. The physical and psychological harm to these children is incalculable. Those who possess and distribute these images are as complicit as those who manufacture them," said Mr Ernie Allen, ICMEC president and CEO.

Surprisingly, just five of the countries reviewed have laws considered comprehensive enough to make a significant impact on the crime. They are: Australia, Belgium, France, South Africa, and the United States.

The laws of each country were examined based on criteria like whether there exist laws criminalizing child pornography, do existing laws include a legal definition of child pornography, is the possession of child pornography a crime, is the distribution of child pornography via computer and the Internet a crime, and are Internet Service Providers (ISPs) required to report suspected child pornography to law enforcement.

Only 22 countries reviewed were in substantial compliance with the recommended criteria set by ICMEC. They are : in Asia&the Pacific -- Hong Kong, New Zealand and Tonga; Europe&Eurasia -- Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovak Republic, Switzerland and the United Kingdom; North America -- Canada ; Latin America&the Caribbean -- Honduras, Panama and Peru; and Middle East&North Africa - Israel.

"We shared advance copies of this research with every country in order to ensure that our analysis was accurate. Our next step is to share model legislation with countries that have not yet enacted laws. We know that many world leaders do not yet recognize that child pornography has become a multi-billion dollar industry and that the world's children are paying the price." More UNI XC-AJ LR RS1739

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