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United Nations targets child porn

Problem needs global action

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The fight against child pornography on the Internet is being taken to Paris today where UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) is holding a two-day conference to address the problem. Representatives of United Nations agencies -- as well as judges and legal experts -- say they are committed to eradicating child pornography on the Internet while maintaining that they respect the idea of freedom of speech on the Net. UNESCO officials hope that by the time the conference ends tomorrow, it will have produced a joint action plan of measures to help overcome this problem. But the conflict of cracking down on child pornography on the one hand, while respecting personal freedom on the other, is likely to make the job of the 150 experts attending the conference even more difficult. No one underestimates the magnitude of the job ahead but UNESCO officials said that paedophile groups were becoming ever more sophisticated and that this world-wide menace needs a global response. Combating the sexual abuse of children, creating a legal framework to stamp out any activity and developing a global initiative to track down and prosecute paedophiles are just some of the issues that are being discussed. Last week a German doctor was sentenced for two years in gaol after a court found him guilty of distributing child pornography over the Net. The doctor, who has not been named, distributed more that 9,500 photos between April and June 1997. According to an IDG report, the pictures -- some of which included scenes of violence -- contained pornographic scenes involving children and animals. ®

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