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France - Child abuse

France to add child pornography viewers to sex offender registry

French President Emmanuel Macron (C) during the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child at Unesco, in Paris, 20 November 2019
French President Emmanuel Macron (C) during the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child at Unesco, in Paris, 20 November 2019 Eric Feferberg/Pool via Reuters

France is to impose stronger penalties for those convicted of possessing child pornography. In a speech to mark the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child at Unesco in Paris, president Emmanuel Macron also pressured pornography websites to restrict access to minors.

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France presented a three-year plan to end violence against children. The junior secretary for children, Adrien Taquet, presented a series of measures “to end once and for all violence against children”.

As part of the plan, the minimum sentence for possessing and consulting child pornography will be upped from three to five years in prison, and those convicted will automatically be included on a registry that will ban them from working with children.

The registry will be made available to directors of day care centres, schools, sports clubs and associations, who will be required to consult it before hiring someone.

“These people…must be able to re-join society [after they have served their sentence], but we must not re-expose them to our children,” said Macron.

Some 400 people are convicted of child pornography each year in France.

Keep children away from pornography

In a speech at Unesco headquarters in Paris, Macron took aim at pornography sites, calling for “robust solutions” to protect children online. He gave companies six months to introduce parental controls by default. Currently these controls are opt-in. If the companies do not comply, the government will pass a law requiring it, said Macron.

He also called for pornography sites to strengthen their age verification systems, to restrict access to anyone under 15 years old.

“We will clarify in the penal code that the simple fact of declaring one’s age on line is not a strong enough protection against access to pornography by minors,” he said.

The means of increasing the verification will be up to the websites, though those who do not comply will be blocked.

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