Online exploitation: protection laws still not global

During the past seven years, 100 countries have enacted new laws to protect children from child pornography.  However, according to the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC), 53 countries still have no law and do not consider child pornography a crime. 

The findings are from a new study conducted by The Koons Family Institute on International Law & Policy, founded by world-renowned artist Jeff Koons, which operates as ICMEC's research arm.  The new study, "Child Pornography: Model Legislation & Global Review, 7th Edition", is a component of the global campaign against child pornography launched by ICMEC in 2006 to persuade governments and parliaments around the world to change and enact new laws to better protect children.   

The global problem of child pornography has exploded with the advent of the Internet. In 2006, ICMEC reviewed the laws in 184 countries and found that only 27 countries had laws sufficient to protect children from child pornography. 

Today, ICMEC reports that during the past seven years, 100 countries have enacted at least one of the organization's recommended criteria: 51 of the countries that had no law in 2006 have law today and the number of countries deemed to have sufficient law has climbed from 27 in 2006 to 69 in 2012.  Yet, 53 countries still have no law at all that specifically criminalizes child pornography. 

"The increase in the number of countries that have implemented four or more of the criteria recommended by ICMEC and the fact that 100 countries have enacted at least one new law is encouraging and a remarkable milestone," said artist Jeff Koons.  "However, it is unacceptable that 53 countries still do not consider child pornography a crime." 

Dr. Franz Humer, Chairman of the Board of ICMEC, and also the Chairman of Swiss pharmaceutical company, Roche Holding Ltd., stated, "When ICMEC issued its first report in 2006, the possession of child pornography was not a crime in 136 countries and 95 countries had no law at all.  We are pleased that countries in every region of the world have responded, that more countries now have laws to protect children and that more people who prey on children are being brought to justice.  However, heads of state and parliaments in the remaining 53 countries need to act swiftly to protect their children and put an end to this insidious crime.  And the 127 countries that still do not have sufficient law need to do more." 

The Internet has created a new world of information and communications.  It has also had an immeasurable impact on the exploitation of children.  The lives of child victims of child pornography are forever altered, not only by the molestation, but by the permanent record of the exploitation.  Images distributed online are irretrievable and can continue to circulate forever, re-victimizing the child again and again.   

"The problem of child pornography is widely misunderstood," said Ernie Allen, President and CEO of ICMEC.  "These are crime scene photos, images of a child being sexually abused.  Every time these images are traded, distributed or downloaded, the child in the photo is re-victimized.  The people who produce, distribute or possess these images must be held accountable.  But first there must be appropriate law in every country.  No country is immune to this form of child exploitation, and it will take a concerted effort from government, law enforcement and others to ensure the world's children are protected." 

The 2012 study by ICMEC examined the laws of 196 countries based on five criteria:   

  • Are there existing laws criminalizing child pornography?
  • Does existing law include a legal definition of child pornography?
  • Is the simple possession of child pornography a crime?
  • Is the distribution of child pornography via computer systems and the Internet a crime?
  • Are Internet Service Providers (ISPs) required to report suspected child pornography to law enforcement?

When the first study was completed in 2006, the possession of child pornography was not considered a crime in 136 countries and 95 countries had no law specifically addressing child pornography at all.  Since then, 51 countries enacted child pornography legislation for the first time; 49 passed legislation defining child pornography; 57 criminalized computer-facilitated offenses; 47 criminalized simple possession of child pornography; and 8 mandated reporting by Internet Service Providers.

These 53 countries currently have no law on child pornography:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahrain, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Guyana,Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Kiribati, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Libya, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mozambique, Namibia, Nauru, Niger, North Korea, Pakistan, Palau, St. Lucia, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.

The following 100 countries have enacted at least one new law in the past seven years:

The Americas:  Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Uruguay.

Europe/Eurasia:  Albania, Andorra, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Holy See, Italy, Kazakhstan,Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Poland, Portugal, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey, and Ukraine.

Middle East and Africa:  Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, and Zambia.

Asia/Pacific:  Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor Leste, Togo, and Vietnam.

The following 69 countries now have "sufficient law" meeting at least 4 of the recommended criteria: 

Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Denmark, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Jordan, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Morocco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, the Philippines, Romania, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Slovak Republic, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Timor Leste, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vanuatu.

A copy of the full report "Child Pornography: Model Legislation & Global Review, 7th Edition" (2012) can be viewed via the following link:

For more information about ICMEC visit:

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