Germany's Justice Ministry has proposed a bill introducing a new crime of "sexualized violence against children" and tougher penalties for sex offenders.
The reason for the new term would be to "clearly describe the injustice of the acts" of sex abuse against children, said Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht, who presented the bill.
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The term "sexual abuse" was previously used when a relationship of dependence was exploited – not only regarding children, but also other scenarios including in prisons or nursing homes. Any sexual act with children under the age of 14 is considered illegal-
Under the proposal, the offense of "sexualized violence against children" will be a new crime, with a penalty between one and 15 years in prison. Until now, sex crimes against children have been punishable with jail terms ranging from six months to 10 years.
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Getting tough on sex abuse
In the future, acts "without physical contact" would be met with a minimum sentence of six months. The distribution, possession and procurement of child pornography will also be met with a stricter punishment. Those convicted of distributing images or videos of child sex abuse can be imprisoned from one to 10 years, as opposed to the current term of three months to five years.
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Meanwhile, possession and procurement of such images could be punishable by one to five years. Currently, the penalty is three years imprisonment or a fine. Sharing commercially or through gangs would also be punishable by two 15 years, as opposed to the current six months to 10 years.
The statute of limitations to press charges would also be extended until the victim reaches the age of 30, according to the draft bill. Meanwhile, the amount of time a conviction will be included on a criminal record would also be extended considerably.
The bill would also allow for greater virtual surveillance of suspects involved in the creation of child abuse images and investigations into its procurement or possession.
The proposed changes follow thebiggest investigation into organized child sex abuse in the history of modern Germany. In October of last year, police searched the house of 43-year-old Jörg L., a cook and hotel manager who was accused of filming himself sexually abusing his daughter who was born in 2017. The search, which eventually involved over 300 police officers, led to the discovery of a criminal pedophile network with tens of thousands of suspects.
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lc/rs (AFP, KNA)