For a second time, Czech child-porn ban likely to die

STR/AFP This fall, the Czech Senate will likely consider a new law that would outlaw the possession of child pornography. Along with Latvia, Portugal, and Slovenia, the Czech Republic is one of four EU member states where it’s legal to own this material.  An outside observer might think passage of the law is a no-brainer—nobody ...

599367_070914_sobotka_05.jpg
599367_070914_sobotka_05.jpg

STR/AFP

This fall, the Czech Senate will likely consider a new law that would outlaw the possession of child pornography. Along with Latvia, Portugal, and Slovenia, the Czech Republic is one of four EU member states where it's legal to own this material. 

An outside observer might think passage of the law is a no-brainer—nobody approves of child pornography. However, the Senate rejected the law this past summer, and observers don't expect the measure to pass this time, either. 

STR/AFP

This fall, the Czech Senate will likely consider a new law that would outlaw the possession of child pornography. Along with Latvia, Portugal, and Slovenia, the Czech Republic is one of four EU member states where it’s legal to own this material. 

An outside observer might think passage of the law is a no-brainer—nobody approves of child pornography. However, the Senate rejected the law this past summer, and observers don’t expect the measure to pass this time, either. 

So what’s the matter with the Czech Republic? Senate Chairman PÅ™emysl Sobotka, a member of the right-wing Civic Democrat party (pictured at left with Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek), argues that the law would violate civil liberties. The Prague Post quotes him thusly:

I am worried about children, and also I am very concerned about personal freedom. The law can be abused politically or personally.”

The law could be used as a weapon to harm political opponents,
Sobotka claims
. His ostensible concern is that child porn could be sent to a political rival in an attempt to get them into legal trouble. When told this problem didn’t exist in countries with child porn bans, he said:

But this doesn’t mean that just because there hasn’t been a problem somewhere else, it couldn’t happen here.

Children’s advocates are understandably outraged by Sobotka’s opposition. Marie Vodičková, director of the Fund for Children in Need, called the defense of his position “absolutely disgraceful … Those children who are abused suffer a million times more than someone [who is innocent] who could possibly get into trouble.”

If the bill fails—which is likely—the Czech lower house can override the Senate’s vote and send the law to Czech President Václav Klaus. It’s not clear whether Klaus, a Civic Democrat like Sobotka, would sign it. 

It strikes me as disgraceful that child porn is legal in four EU countries. It strikes me as repugnant that a member of the Czech Senate would use fear of entrapment as a justification for blocking a bill criminalizing it. In 2004, the Czech Republic was admitted to the European Union, a body which makes much of its Charter of Fundamental Rights. Apparently, the rights of children to be free from sexual exploitation are not fundamental. 

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