I, too, thank both rapporteurs for presenting good reports on issues that do not give us much pleasure to discuss. A colleague from my national delegation asked me last night what the issues were on today’s agenda, and my short answer was, pornography. He thought that it was a bad political joke. Unfortunately, it was not.
Regardless of our views on these subjects, the Parliamentary Assembly’s decision to take action against “child pornography” and “violent and extreme pornography” is a very important one. By adopting those two resolutions and recommendations, we will send a clear message to all member states that such vice has no place in our societies.
I should like the first two sentences of Mr Conde Bajén’s report to be sent to every member of parliament in Europe. Let us listen again to these words: “Child abuse images are not just images…one must never forget that behind every image, there is at least one child who has been sexually abused in real life.”
The Internet has been the most spectacular communications development of the past 10 years, but, as the report states, the Internet can also be misused, for example, by circulating indecent child abuse images. That is why it is so important to put in place laws and regulations with stringent penalties in order to combat the creation, distribution and simple possession of such material.
I was glad to see that the resolution recommends: “All member states should be ready to apply the most far-reaching measures to fight the production, dissemination and consultation of child abuse images, including the blocking of websites containing illegal contents wherever required and appropriate.” It underlines the Parliamentary Assembly’s desire to protect society, particularly children, from exposure to such material to which access can no longer be reliably controlled through existing legislation, and which may encourage interest in violent and perverse sexual activity.
The report also mentions the wide disparity in the national laws of Council of Europe member states. Differences between national laws may create loopholes that can be exploited by producers, distributors and collectors of child abuse images. It is also important to keep in mind that poor countries are attractive targets for sex tourism and human trafficking, so international co-operation is essential if there is to be effective action against the production and distribution of such material.
Our children deserve a much better future. Let us do everything we can to offer them the best possible future.