The fight against sexual abuse of children on the Internet is an international matter and the National Police of the Netherlands have joined the international platform of countries, investigative services and other parties, in the fight against child abuse. This is why Ivo Opstelten, the Dutch Minister of Security and Justice, visited the United States Sept. 30 for the Second Ministerial Conference of the Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online, held in Washington, D.C.
During the conference, more countries joined the alliance, which was founded at the initiative of the European Union and the United States in Brussels, two years ago. The Netherlands joined the alliance from the start and presently, more than 50 countries worldwide collaborate to identify, help and protect victims of child pornography on the Internet. These countries are committed to increasing efforts to investigate and prosecute offenders. The general public should also be aware of sexual abuse of children on the Internet, and the availability of child pornographic images and videos must be curbed.
Minister Opstelten will also open the biannual conference of the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) held Nov. 5 in the Netherlands. The theme of the conference will be the fight against child sex tourism and live streaming, in other words, abuse by means of webcams.
In the National Police Security Agenda for 2015-2018, Minister Opstelten announced that the investigation and prosecution of child pornography and child sex tourism will be given more emphasis. Child pornography cases have a major impact on global societies. Partly as a result of the digitization of society, the extent of the problem is growing, and it does not stop at borders. The abuse that is the source of child pornographic images is increasingly taking place through remote Internet connections and webcams. Mr Opstelten said he is pleased that more and more countries unite in the struggle against the sexual abuse of children.
By joining the VGT, the National Police aim to intensify the fight against child sexual abuse. Minister Opstelten said the police are improving their ability to report suspects of child pornography to the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service with 568 suspects reported in 2013, almost 20 percent more than in 2010. Minister Opstelten added that the current goal is for the number of interventions by police to increase to 700 in 2018, with the focus shifting to more serious cases. This means tackling the real abusers and producers of child pornography, in addition to those who download it.
Another important aspect is the fight against child sex tourism: people committing sexual abuse of children abroad, with Minister Opstelten stating that he will work to tighten legislation even further. For instance, penalization should be extended to include a certain form of abuse without physical contact, known as ‘grooming.’ Collaboration will be enhanced through extra police liaisons, and through coordination with the corporate sector (for instance, the travel industry) and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in regions with an increased risk of child abuse, such as Southeast Asia and South America. Collaborative pilot projects between the police and NGOs have already been set up in the Philippines and Thailand. The police and the NGOs also collaborate to increase awareness of the possibilities of screening Dutch volunteers and staff of child aid organisations in non-EU countries.