More progress on tackling child sex abuse material

Things may be going crazy in Brussels but in Alexandria, Virginia, excellence and calm sanity remain the norm. The International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC) has just released the 9th edition of the always eagerly awaited Model Legislation and Global Review.

Over the years the scope of the review has expanded beyond “simply” recording how countries address each of the original“five factors” highlighted in the recommended model legislation. While these remain at the constant core, the 9th edition has evolved to become a rich and authoritative source of information on thirteen

“fundamental topics/provisions that are essential to a comprehensive legislative strategy to combat child sexual abuse material”

In relation to the original five factors, ICMEC tells us that while at the time of the first edition in 2006, only 27 countries in the world had a legislative framework considered sufficient to allow them to tackle child sex abuse material, today it is 118 and between the 8th edition (2016) and the 9th the rate at which countries have been making things right in this department has noticeably quickened. The message is getting through thanks to the work of a multiplicity of agencies, many of which are mentioned.

While in 2006 95 countries had no legislation at all specifically addressing the problem, ICMEC advises today we are down to 16. Let’s hope by the 10th edition we hit zero. Another number that needs to get closer to zero asap concerns simple possession of child sex abuse material irrespective of an intention to distribute. 38 countries still do not explicitly say that is illegal. They should.

ICMEC is at pains to point out

“As always, it is important to note that the legislative review accompanying our model legislation is not a scorecard or a scold, but an effort to assess the current state and awareness of the problem. Realizing the importance of taking into consideration varying cultural, religious, socio-economic, and political norms, our model legislation continues to resemble a menu of concepts that can be applied universally….”

Quite so.

Good laws are rarely in themselves sufficient but they are an essential building block.