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Thursday, 17 September 2020 - Brussels Revised edition

6. Combatting the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children (continuation of debate)
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  Der Präsident. – Wir setzen nun unsere Aussprache über die Erklärungen des Rates und der Kommission zur Bekämpfung von sexuellem Missbrauch und sexueller Ausbeutung von Kindern (2020/2702(RSP)) fort.


  Ylva Johansson, Member of the Commission. – Mr President, I feel the honourable Members’ strong commitment to fighting child sexual abuse. I count on your support for the interim legislation on the table and I count on good cooperation with the implementation of the strategy.

We heard from Mr Lenaers about being a parent and the strong emotions that you feel to protect your child. But I think that we all also feel, as adults, strong emotions about protecting all children and the obligation, as politicians, to take the proper measures to do so.

I will work with you to protect children, both online and offline, and of course, there is also a very strong link between online and offline crimes. Ms Pelletier mentioned that because, to be able to see this content online, you have to produce new content and that is the ongoing raping and abuse of children. It is also, of course, the case that, when these materials can stay there for years, being watched again and again and again, the crime is been done again and again and again towards the victims.

I think that our upcoming European centre to prevent and counter child sexual abuse will play a key role in this area. It’s important that many of you have stressed the implementation of the directive. We already have the ongoing infringement procedures and all of you that are studying the strategy can see that there are a lot of things in the strategy that will help Member States to really implement the directive, so this will be the focus.

May I also say something about the interim legislation that we have on the table. This is to avoid an unintended situation where otherwise we would make it impossible for the voluntary detection of child sex abuse materials that the companies do right now. I must say that I think that Mr Kolaja is falling into a very dangerous trap here. There is no contradiction between working on prevention, working with victims, working on the implementation of the directives, working with hotlines and also making it possible that we do not put into force an unintended effect that would stop the internet companies from doing this important detection and reporting. Hotlines play a very important role, but they only detect a very small fraction of this material because most of the material is not public. It’s in communication or more closed areas.

Some of you have also mentioned trafficking and that is important. I can tell you that we are coming forward with new proposals and a new strategy to fight trafficking. That will be part of the upcoming proposals at the beginning of next year on fighting organised crime.

To conclude, I must say that there is one thing that perpetrating paedophiles fear more than anything else, and that is the light. They would like to stay and act in the dark. I think that Ms Sippel said something very wise here: being silent and looking away is simply not an option. I fully agree. Let’s turn on the light. As Ms Vautmans said, if we don’t do it, who will do it? I fully agree with that as well. We have the power. Let’s use that important power together to protect children.



  Der Präsident. – Die Aussprache ist geschlossen.

Schriftliche Erklärungen (Artikel 171)


  Caterina Chinnici (S&D), per iscritto. – L'abuso e lo sfruttamento sessuale dei minori rappresentano un'intollerabile violazione dei diritti umani. Secondo stime del Consiglio d'Europa, un minore su cinque in Europa è vittima di una qualche forma di violenza sessuale. Nel 2019, inoltre, l'UE ha raggiunto il primato mondiale per materiale pedopornografico ospitato. E la crisi di Covid-19 ha aggravato una situazione già sconfortante: in alcuni Stati membri, la domanda di materiale pedopornografico è aumentata fino al 25%, e a livello mondiale il numero di segnalazioni di abusi sessuali su minori è quadruplicato. Considerata la natura spesso transfrontaliera di questi crimini, occorre un'azione coordinata e comune a livello di UE, per contrastare questo fenomeno offline e online. Prevenzione, protezione, assistenza alle vittime, coordinamento investigativo, repressione e condivisione delle best practice devono rappresentare le priorità di un approccio multisettoriale, che coinvolga autorità di contrasto, ricercatori, organizzazioni impegnate nel supporto ai minori e settore privato, in particolare i fornitori di servizi online. La strategia presentata dalla Commissione, frutto del dialogo instaurato con il Parlamento e con l'Intergruppo sui diritti dei minori, si muove in questa direzione. Devono ora seguire misure legislative e azioni concrete, per assicurare davvero il rispetto dei diritti dei bambini come sanciti nell'art. 24 CDFUE.


  Rovana Plumb (S&D), in writing. – Sexual violence knows no boundaries. It occurs in every country, across all parts of society. In the last ten years, online child sexual abuse increased exponentially worldwide, from 1 million reports of child sexual abuse material in 2010 to 17 million in 2019. The old warning ‘don’t talk to strangers’ has lost its power. In online chat, strangers come disguised as teenagers; they know all the right words and all the right music. The current COVID-19 pandemic has further increased the risk of sexual exploitation for children, because they are spending more time online. For children who live with their abusers, the isolation linked to the COVID-19 crisis may have dramatic consequences. Fighting child sexual exploitation is a joint effort between law enforcement, EU Member States, non-governmental organisations, international organisations and the private sector. I am very pleased that the European Commission launched in July 2020 a package of measures to better combat child sex abuse – a European strategy to fight child sexual abuse. I am convinced that such a strategy is the right way forward, as increased cooperation is needed to coordinate efforts to protect our children online. It is our obligation to protect children. Let us do what is needed.

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