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Published 15.12.23

Amendment of the penal code necessary

Torsten Krause, SDC

With the Act to Combat Sexualised Violence against Children, the penalties for child pornography material were increased to at least one year’s imprisonment on 1 July 2021. As a result of this increase in penalties, it was no longer possible for law enforcement authorities or courts to discontinue proceedings if, for example, a teacher had such material because they were asked for help by pupils or if relevant material was found among young people that they had created and shared consensually without violating the rights of other people (sexting).

After civil society actors, as well as the police, public prosecutors and courts, have reported that this situation does not adequately fulfil the need to combat child pornography, the German government is now planning a further amendment. By adjusting the penalties in Section 184b of the German Penal Code (StGB), the aim is to make it possible for offences to be suspended again.

As part of the associations’ participation in the draft bill, the Digital Opportunities Foundation provides information on how children’s rights should be taken into account in this context. In particular, we refer to paragraph 118 of General Comment No. 25 of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child. This states that „[s]elf-generated sexual material by children that they possess and/or share with their consent and solely for their own private use should not be criminalized." The Digital Opportunity Foundation therefore advocates the legalisation of consensual sexting by young people. We are also in favour of extended options for providing information and point out contradictions in penal law. In our view, it is not understandable that certain sexual acts between young people that take place digitally are sanctioned, even though they are legal in the analogue world.

You can read the full statement by Stiftung Digitale Chancen here. Ressource is available only in German.