• Germany cabinet has approved a plan to lower the minimum sentence for distributing child sexual abuse images.
  • Current law punishes one to 10 years in prison for spreading such material.
  • The proposed legislation would reduce the minimum sentence to six months to restore flexibility in sentencing.

German cabinet Plans were approved on Wednesday to reduce the minimum sentence to one year for distributing child sexual abuse images, reversing a rule that was introduced less than three years ago but authorities says that it has proven to be much more flexible in practice.

German law It currently stipulates that anyone who “disseminates or communicates child pornography to the general public” is sentenced to between one and 10 years in prison. Reforms introduced by Germany’s previous government in July 2021 previously provided sentences ranging from three months to five years.

Justice Minister Marco Bushmann said the upper limit would remain in place, but that the new minimum sentence had resulted in “many problems in practice”.

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“In particular, those who unintentionally receive such content – for example in the context of a WhatsApp parenting group – risk a minimum sentence of one year,” Buschmann said in a statement. He added that the same applies to “teachers who discovered child pornographic content on students’ mobile phones and forwarded it to the affected parents to inform them.”

Marco Buschmann and Christian Lindner

Marco Boschmann, left, Federal Minister of Justice, and Christian Lindner, Federal Minister of Finance, attend a meeting of the Federal Cabinet at the Federal Chancellery on February 7, 2024 in Berlin. Germany’s cabinet on Wednesday approved plans to reduce by one – year the minimum sentence for distributing images of child sexual abuse. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)

New legislation., which still needs parliamentary approval, would reduce the minimum sentence to six months. Buschmann said it would restore the ability of courts and prosecutors to “react flexibly and proportionately to each individual case,” and that investigators, courts and state-level justice ministers should make the change. It was emphasized.

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Under German law, crimes punishable by a year or more are considered felonies, while crimes under that threshold are considered misdemeanors.

The new legislation will restore the ability of authorities to close cases at the lower end of the sentence. It states that the possibility of classifying crimes as misdemeanors is also necessary to deal with “the large number of young offenders with the necessary flexibility”, given that those offenders are “inexperienced, curious, thirsty for adventure”. or acts trying to impress.” Instead of sexual stimuli.

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