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EU acts against child sex abuse

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The EU wants to plug loopholes exploited by paedophiles

The European Commission - the EU's executive arm - has set out plans for tightening EU law to protect children from sexual predators.

The proposals - yet to be adopted by the 27 member states - would make online grooming and the viewing of child pornography criminal offences.

Sex tourists from EU states who abused children outside the EU would face prosecution on their return home.

The commission is also calling for new EU rules to curb people-trafficking.

The commission says that in 2008 more than 1,000 commercial and about 500 non-commercial websites depicting child sex abuse were found - 71% of them in the US. Most of the non-commercial ones were peer-to-peer.

If adopted, the new proposals will mean free legal services for victims of abuse.

Authorities in the EU could bring people traffickers to justice even if they committed their crimes outside the EU, the commission said.

The International Labour Organisation says 43% of trafficking victims are exploited for prostitution.

Under UK law, British nationals who commit sex offences against children abroad can already be prosecuted in the UK, even if their actions were legal in the country they visited.



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