Saturday, July 18, 1998

International cooperation in the struggle against child pornography

BONN -- German Chancellor Helmut Kohl called on Saturday for stronger international cooperation in the struggle against child pornography, following the discovery in the Netherlands of a suspected Internet child abuse ring.

In an interview with Welt am Sonntag newspaper made available ahead of publication on Sunday, Kohl said the case in the Netherlands showed the international community needed to intensify its efforts to protect children from such abuses.

"The scandal in the Netherlands concerns us all... possibly German children were among the victims and German men among the protagonists," he told the newspaper.

Dutch police are currently sifting through thousands of potentially pornographic computer files discovered in a flat in the popular seaside town of Zandvoort.

The deceased owner of the flat is thought to have been a central figure in an international network distributing pornographic material involving children. "What shocks me the most is that these criminals were also able to make a profits out of their disgraceful deeds," the chancellor said.

Kohl added that German law had recently been sharpened to include effective sanctions against the manufacture and dissemination of child pornography.

Dutch investigators said on Friday they were maintaining close contact with Belgian and German colleagues, but that it was too early to comment on the extent of the suspected porn operation.

German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel also called for stepping up anti-porn activity on a European level. "The criminals are operating across Europe as the case of Amsterdam shows once again. Therefore we need European counter strategies," he told Welt am Sonntag. "The Internet is not a lawless space. We will catch the miscreants whichever means of communication they choose to take advantage of."

Allegations that child abusers around the globe were linking up through the Internet have sparked demands in Germany and Austria for tighter regulation of the worldwide web. German Interior Minister Manfred Kanther told Welt am Sonntag he had instructed the federal office for the security of information technology to try to develop software to improve the ability of the police to uncover such illegal material on the Internet.

Copyright 1998 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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Created: >September 9, 1998
Last modified: September 9, 1998

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