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European Commission

Cecilia Malmström

EU Commissioner for Home Affairs

Cecilia Malmström's remarks at the VIP corner on the Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online

Global Alliance against Child Sexual Abuse Online – VIP corner / Brussels

5 December 2012

First of all I would like to thank US Attorney General Eric Holder for being here with me today. When we met one year ago we agreed on the importance of placing the problem of child sexual abuse online high on the political agenda and the need to take firm actions to fight it.

At that time, we imagined creating a worldwide network of nations who would join their efforts to tackle this transnational crime. And here we are today, one year later, to launch a Global Alliance against child sexual abuse online, with 48 countries worldwide.

I am really grateful to all the countries that have decided to be part of the Global Alliance and I wish to thank their Ministers and representatives that are present here in Brussels today.

Child sexual abuse online is a hideous crime and it is also a hidden crime. Not only because it is often perpetrated in the darkest corners of the web by criminals who act in secrecy and try to keep their networks invisible.

It is also a hidden crime, because it is very hard and painful to talk about it. It is such a horrible thing that sometimes we just want to close our eyes in front of it. We don't want to hear or imagine heart-breaking scenes such as the ones showing children being raped and tortured.

But these images do exist and they are circulating on the Internet as we speak. Behind each and every image there is an abused child, an exploited and helpless victim. Every time someone looks at those images it is like the rape and torture of those victims are being repeated again.

And the number of images grows. Conservative estimates tell us that there are around one million images online and that 50.000 new pictures of sexually abused children are uploaded every year.

This is why we are here today: to say loud and clear that we are serious about combating child sexual abuse online. We are here because we want those criminals, to know that 48 countries are joining forces all around the world to chase them and put an end to their crimes.

We are here because we want victims to know that they are not alone nor forgotten: we pledge to work together to identify more children and to help and protect them.

We know that no country can do this alone, as the criminal networks behind these crimes know no boundaries and exploit the lack of information exchange and the legal loopholes that exist within and between countries.

We also know that international cooperation is crucial if we want to effectively investigate cases of child sexual abuse online, if we want to better prosecute offenders and if we want to identify and protect more children.

This is why today we are launching the Global Alliance as a way to foster cooperation and as an endeavour of countries that are committing to work together toward common goals.

And the event taking place today in Brussels is just the starting point: I hope we will be able to get more countries to join the Alliance in the future and I am looking forward to the next meeting of the Global Alliance that will take place by the end of 2014 under the able chairmanship of the United States and where we will take stock of the progress achieved.

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