The Foundation for the Child and the Family in cooperation with the ”Fondation pour l’ enfance” (France) organized the Second European Meeting of Legal Practitioners in relation to Juvenile Justice in Athens, in March 2003. The first meeting was held by the Fondation pour lEnfance in November 2000, in Paris.
The aim of the Second Meeting which was held under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Justice and with financial support from the GROTIUS-II Programme of the European Commission, was the protection of minors from the childrens pornography on the Internet and the sexual exploitation for commercial purposes, through the examination of different national legislations, organization systems, practices and experiments that are applied in several EU member-states.
Ιn the Second European Meeting of Legal Practitioners in relation to Juvenile Justice there were delegations of the following EU member-states: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark, Greece, United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg, Holland, Portugal, Sweden, Finland.
Every country was represented by three-member delegations, which were made up of distinguished judges, public prosecutors, lawyers, policemen and experts.
In the opening of the Meeting which was attended by all the participants, apart from Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis (Founding President of the Foundation for the Child and the Family) and Mrs. Anne-Aymone Giscard dEstaing (Founding President of the Fondation pour l?Enfance), there was also the Greek Minister of Justice, Mr. Philippos Petsalnikos, the French Minister of Justice, Mr. Dominique Perben, the Greek Minister of Public Order, Mr. Michalis Chryssohoidis and the Director of the Local and National Police I.P.C.O.-Interpol, Mr. Peter Vowe.
During her opening speech, Mrs. Vardinoyannis stressed inter alias:
The two issues that will be tackled during this MeetingChildrens pornography on Internet and Sexual exploitation of minors for commercial purposes are in the heart of todays social concern. It reflects the unfortified world that we built for our children. The mirror of a world, which, because of the Internet, becomes increasingly bigger and less controlled Todays meeting aims at responding to the need for cooperation, collective effort and coordination on a EU level; to the need for harmonizing the legislations and forming a common policy, which in the time of sweeping changes in the social European Charter, becomes increasingly important. I am sure that the Second European Meeting of Legal Practitioners in relation to Juvenile Justice will contribute positively to the progress of this International movement for the childrens protection. Besides, we should not forget that it is our responsibility to the world of todays children live and that the real wealth of the mankind will be evaluated according to whether we succeeded in creating a society of peace, harmony, dignity and genuineness for the future of the world and the children
The three Ministers, Mr. Petsalnikos, Mr. Chryssohoidis and Mr. Perben, stressed that there is a political will for a more effective protection of the minors and laid emphasis on the policies aiming at preventing the abuse and commercialization of the minors. They pointed out the need for a continuous modification and modernization of the legislation governing minors protection and the need for a further intensification of the transnational cooperation in this field. According to the Ministers, within the framework of this mobilization and modernization, it is essential and of great help to the development of a modern minors Law to organize meetings, with a fruitful and sincere scientific dialogue and an exchange of views on empirically applied policies. Additionally, the Ministers stressed the application of recent relative laws and the preparation of draft laws that will be subject to approval.
Then the reports from each delegation followed as well as the participants exchange of views and the conclusions.
The Professor of Criminology – Penology in Athens University, Mrs. Kalliope D. Spinellis, summed up what was mentioned by the participants about the childrens pornography on Internet:
It is a multidimensional, complex, recent and globalized issue.
The groups of people involved (both perpetrators and victims) come from different civilizations and work on the Cybernet, which allows the involvement of international networks, makes it very difficult to identify them and affects everyone since Internet is present in almost every house.
Given that those involved use high technology, those serving the criminal justice services must be properly trained in order to gain the necessary knowledge and penetrate in the criminal networks.
In some countries such training is already under way and should be expanded to the others.
At the same time, childrens training is necessary because it will enable them to use correctly the e-mail and to surf on Internet, and so is parents information about filtering and control methods.
Furthermore, there is a need for modernizing the legislation in order to include the new offences against minors and to stipulate strict punishment for the offenders.
It is important to disseminate the know-how and create a database and Internet sites where citizens can denounce something that came to their notice.
It is necessary to establish telephone help lines where minors who are abused or fall victims of pederasty can call.
The cooperation between the countries at all levels (police, criminal justice, etc.) between the civil society and NGOs is decisive for the effective prevention and elimination of this problem.
Mr. Yvon Tallec, Vice- Prosecutor General, Head of Paris Minors Public Prosecutors Offices, summed up everything that was said by the participants about the Minors sexual exploitation with commercial purposes:
Most national legislations have made great progress in the modernization process by defining and adding new offences and strict punishments. However, the other countries must move in this direction too.
The practices of the criminals detection and prosecution should be increased by laying emphasis on the methods of penetration and provocation, that is, the policemen to be involved in these networks by showing a fake interest in pedophile activities.
An effusion of this phenomenon is observed in the developed countries due to the great immigrant flows of the recent years and that is why it is necessary to set up the prevention, and care of these social groups.
The NGOs can act effectively in this field with the aim of raising awareness of the public opinion, informing the parents and children and promoting the transnational dialogue and the exchange of points of view on new practices and prevention policies,
The setting up in each country of a specialized team of policemen, judges, prosecutors, jurists and experts for the protection of the minors and the prevention of this phenomenon. Of course, a transnational cooperation of all these units is necessary.
At the closing of the Second European Meeting of Legal Practitioners in relation to Juvenile Justice, Mrs. Marianna V. Vardinoyannis stressed:
Our Conference set off once again the role of the cooperation between governmental and non-governmental organizations, which nowadays has become of great importance and is widely recognized. Undoubtedly, the civil society stands out more firmly and the Governmental Organizations complete substantially the work of the Authorities. I would like to thank you all for your important contribution to this meeting at an institutional and practical level. I believe that many interesting conclusions and proposals were made about the coordinated action we must undertake to achieve the common goal of harmonizing and converging the legislations, policies and practices aiming at the protection of the minors. Our effort will not stop now. It must be well coordinated, multi-faceted and continuous because such issues cannot be solved overnight.
I want to assure you that the Foundation for the Child and the Family will do all the necessary actions in order to promote to the European Commission and the competent agents the conclusions of this congress as soon as possible and in a consistent way.
Todays conference started in cooperation with the Fondation pour lEnfance in France, which paved the way for such meetings and kept open the communication channel. The two summits that were held the first one in 2000 in Paris and the second one today here in Athens- can become the base for a strong alliance. An alliance for the children and a common front against crime which will gain an ever increasing number of supporters
The organizers and participants committed themselves to submit proposals to the European Commission and other competent bodies, in the near future, with the aim of promoting and applying the measures for the protection of the minors.
The meeting transcript: http://www.fondation-enfance.org/final/publications/rapports2003.htm