The Petition’s Delivery to EU Institutions Marks the First Mass Public Outcry Calling for Legislators’ Attention Amid Global Debates
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM / ACCESSWIRE / December 7, 2023 / Since 2022, proposed legislation to combat online child abuse — the Regulation to Prevent and Combat Child Sexual Abuse — has gone through a number of iterations, the latest of which child protection advocates view as a compromise too far. This echoes happenings globally, as legislation in countries like the United States and United Kingdom face roadblocks. However, with over 540,000 signatures, a petition submitted to the European Union demonstrates mass support to enact comprehensive legislation protecting children online.
The Justice Initiative led the petition’s delivery in the European Parliament on December 6th attended by NGOs, survivors, and politicians including European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson, Members of the European Parliament, former United States Ambassador-at-Large John Cotton Richmond, and a Spanish Council Presidency representative.
Advocates urged lawmakers to champion the rights of children. As survivor Mie Kohyiama said, “The compromise in the European Parliament is a clear step back in the protection of children online.”
In 2022, there were 32 million reports globally of suspected online child sexual exploitation. Powerful interest groups have done everything they can to weaken the proposal, but survivors say, “Enough is enough.” This stance is in line with results of recent EU-wide surveys such as the Eurobarometer and one conducted by ECPAT-NSPCC, whose results show an overwhelming majority of citizens support legislation to prevent, detect, and report child sexual abuse online.
As global debates continue, the European Union has a crucial role to play. With a user base higher than the United States, as Guido Fluri of the Justice Initiative said, “What the EU decides to do about the sexual abuse images on the internet will have repercussions around the world. This is an opportunity for global child protection.”
With significant events set to occur internationally including landmark testimony on the issue of online child sexual abuse and exploitation to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee from five of the largest tech CEOs slated for January 31st, the legislation faces another round of revisions. At the event, calling on governments to act, former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons Richmond said, “We’re not going to stop this problem if we don’t hold the perpetrators, whether it be individuals or companies, accountable.”
Ylva Johansson, European Commissioner for Home Affairs urged, “This is a decisive moment. The European Parliament and the Council of the European Union are deciding on the final text of the proposal. I urge you to listen to the silent majority, to listen to the survivors and support my proposal, to protect children from the worst crime imaginable.”
Access photos from the event here.
SOURCE: The Justice Initiative
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