Child Pornography: Model Legislation and Global Review

Child Pornography: Model Legislation and Global Review


Date of publication:  25 Oct 2010 Publisher:  International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children Publication type:  Newsletter / Review / Bulletin

Since this report was first released by the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) in April 2006, ICMEC has continued to update its research into the child pornography legislation currently in place in the nations of the world to gain a better understanding of existing legislation and to gauge where the issue stands on national political agendas. In particular, we are looking to see if national legislation: (1) exists with specific regard to child pornography; (2) provides a definition of child pornography; (3) criminalizes computer facilitated offences; (4) criminalizes the knowing possession of child pornography, regardless of the intent to distribute; and (5) requires Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to report suspected child pornography to law enforcement or to some other mandated agency. In the summer of 2009, ICMEC conducted a thorough update of our research on existing child pornography legislation, expanding our review beyond the 187 Interpol member countries to include 196 countries. Our work included independent research as well as direct contact with Embassies in Washington, D.C. to ensure the accuracy of the report. Sadly, our end results continue to shock. Of the 196 countries reviewed: * only 45 have legislation sufficient to combat child pornography offences (8 countries meet all of the criteria set forth above and 37 countries meet all but the last criteria, pertaining to ISP reporting); and * 89 have no legislation at all that specifically addresses child pornography. Of the remaining countries that do have legislation specifically addressing child pornography: * 52 do not define child pornography in national legislation; * 18 do not provide for computer facilitated offences; and * 33 do not criminalize the knowing possession of child pornography, regardless of the intent to distribute. Methodology Research into national child pornography legislation began in November 2004. Primary sources of information included: LexisNexis; a survey of member countries previously conducted by Interpol regarding national child sexual exploitation legislation; government submissions to the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography in conjunction with a U.N. report on child pornography on the Internet; and direct contact with in-country non-governmental organizations (NGOs), law enforcement agencies and officers, and attorneys. Once the relevant information was assembled, legal analysis was conducted, and the preliminary results were compiled. In January 2006, letters were sent to the attention of Ambassadors of the Interpol member country Embassies in Washington, D.C.; if no Embassy listing was available, a letter was sent to the Ambassador at the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York City. All letters consisted of a summary of the model legislation project as well as country-specific results. Ambassadors were asked to verify our research and provide us with corrected information by a certain date, if such was necessary. In April 2009 and again in November of 2009, this letter campaign was repeated in order to ensure that the Sixth Edition had the most up-to-date information possible. These letters made the respective Embassy and/or Permanent Mission aware that another edition of this publication would soon be forthcoming. Similar to the letters sent in 2006, Embassies were asked to verify our research and provide us with corrected information by a certain date. Additionally, extensive legal research and analysis was conducted on the child pornography legislation existing in each of the 196 countries referred to in this report. Topics Addressed Fundamental topics addressed in the model legislation portion of this report include: (1) Defining “child” for the purposes of child pornography as anyone under the age of 18, regardless of the age of sexual consent; (2) Defining “child pornography,” and ensuring that the definition includes computer and internet specific terminology; (3) Creating offences specific to child pornography in the national penal code, including criminalizing the knowing possession of child pornography, regardless of one’s intent to distribute, and including provisions specific to knowingly downloading or knowingly viewing images on the Internet; (4) Ensuring criminal penalties for parents or legal guardians who acquiesce to their child’s participation in child pornography; (5) Penalizing those who make known to others where to find child pornography; (6) Including grooming provisions; (7) Punishing attempt crimes; (8) Establishing mandatory reporting requirements for health care and social service professionals, teachers, law enforcement officers, photo developers, information technology (IT) professionals, ISPs, credit card companies, and banks; (9) Addressing the criminal liability of children involved in pornography; and (10) Enhancing penalties for repeat offenders, organized crime participants, and other aggravating factors to be considered upon sentencing.

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