The European Union (EU) on Friday unveiled plans to step up its fight against online child sexual abuse, as well as drugs and firearms smuggling across the bloc.
Margaritis Schinas, European Commission Vice-President for Promoting European Way of Life, said that unlike many who have suffered economically from the coronavirus pandemic, business is booming for organized criminals. "Those who profit from causing misery and harm from sales of illicit drugs and firearms or who disseminate heinous child sexual abuse material must be stopped and brought to justice," he said. European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson explained that in the last five years, Europe became "the epicenter" of online child sexual abuse, while in the field of drugs Europe moved from being a consumer to a producer of illicit drugs, especially synthetic drugs. The world has witnessed a rise from 1 million detected child sexual abuse online material in 2010 to 17 million in 2019, said Johansson, adding that there were more than 725,000 reports in the EU last year. "The situation has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic, with a lot of children alone at home, and also because of increased activity from pedophiles," she elaborated. The commissioner spoke about the need to have sharper tools to combat this problem and the new legislation that will make it mandatory for all social media providers to detect, remove, report and refer these materials. Johansson announced plans to set up a center to investigate cases of detected child abuse. She said plans were also at hand to set up a prevention network in Europe, with special units to help the victims deal with this trauma and make it easier for the victims, particularly children, to report these crimes.