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Germany toughens penalties for using and sharing child porn

Germany on Wednesday agreed tougher punishments for using and sharing child pornography as part of a crackdown on child abuse following a series of shocking cases over the past 18 months.

Germany toughens penalties for using and sharing child porn
Photo: DPA

Under a draft law agreed by the German cabinet, the maximum prison sentence for offenders will be increased from 10 to 15 years.

Sharing child pornography will be punishable with up to 10 years in jail, while simply possessing it could land offenders up to five years.

Sharing child porn with paedophile networks or on a commercial basis will carry a sentence of up to 15 years.

READ ALSO: Germany to 'fast-track' stricter punishments for child sexual abuse

“Offenders fear nothing more than being discovered,” said Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht, whose ministry drafted the law.

“We must therefore massively increase the pressure to prosecute, and the terrible injustice of these acts must also be reflected in the level of penalties.”

The draft law also bans sex dolls with a childlike appearance, introducing fines and jail sentences for anyone who owns, produces or distributes them.

Investigators will be given more power to tap  communications such as web chats, while tougher rules will also apply to those convicted for creating child pornography.

'Most heinous crimes imaginable'

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said the law was “a milestone in the fight against the most heinous crimes imaginable”.

Germany has been shocked at the discovery of several serious cases of child sex abuse over the past 18 months.

In June, investigators said they are probing some 30,000 suspects as part of a probe into a “deeply disturbing” online paedophile network linked to the city of Bergisch Gladbach, in North Rhine-Westphalia state.

Those being investigated are suspected of sharing “child and youth pornographic content” including “fictitious and/or real acts of abuse” in anonymous online discussion forums and chat groups.

Just weeks earlier, 11 people were arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing children and filming their actions, after videos and photos were seized from the cellar of a 27-year-old man from the city of Münster, also in North Rhine-Westphalia.

Investigators said they had identified at least three victims, aged five, 10 and 12 years old.

The case triggered calls from politicians to crack down on those using and sharing child pornography.

In an earlier scandal in Lügde, 125 kilometres (80 miles) from Münster, several men abused children several hundred times at a campsite over a period of several years.

READ ALSO: Police 'failures' probed in 'largest child abuse scandal in Germany history'

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GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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