Did Germany Just Decriminalise Child Pornography?!

Did Germany just decriminalise child pornography?! Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!

 

Claim : Germany Just Decriminalised Child Pornography!

People are sharing an article (archive) by The People’s Voice (formerly NewsPunch), which claims that Germany just decriminalised child pornography!

Here is an excerpt from the long, and (intentionally?) rambling article. Feel free to skip to the next section for the facts!

Germany Decriminalizes Child Pornography Offenses – Media Blackout

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Truth : Germany Did Not Decriminalise Child Pornography!

This is yet another example of fake news created / promoted by The People’s Voice, and here are the reasons why…

Fact #1 : Child Pornography Is Still Illegal In Germany

Let me start by pointing out that child pornography is still illegal in Germany.

While The People’s Voice article claimed otherwise, possession and distribution of child pornography remains a crime in Germany.

Fact #2 : Germany Partially Reversed Increased Punishment

In July 2021, Germany actually increased the punishment for distributing child pornography, with a prison sentence of between 1 and 10 years. Previously, those convicted of the crime would face imprisonment of between three months and 5 years.

However, the German government soon realised that the minimum sentence of one year was problematic in practice. It meant that even parents and teachers who forward these child sexual abuse material (CSAM) to the police would face at least one year of prison!

The minimum 1 year sentence also meant the automatic classification as a crime, which means prosecutors and the courts cannot simply stop proceedings, as they would with misdemeanours. They would have to prosecute even people reporting child pornography to the fullest extent of the law!

That led investigators, courts, and even state justice ministers to push for a reduction in the sentencing guidelines.

As such, the German Federal Cabinet voted on Wednesday, 7 February 2024, to reduce the minimum sentence, from one year to six months. This would give prosecutors and the courts greater flexibility to address each claim proportionally.

As German Justice Minister Marco Buschmann explained, the new upper limit of 10 years would stay in place, but there will be a new minimum sentence:

In particular, people who receive such material involuntarily — for example in the context of a WhatsApp parents’ group — risk a minimum sentence of one year. The same also applies in the case of teachers who have discovered child pornographic material on students’ cellphones and have forwarded it to alert the affected parents.

This completely refutes claims by The People’s Voice article that the distribution of child pornography is no longer a crime in Germany.

Even after this new law is passed with its reduced minimum sentence, it will still have longer prison time than the original 3 months to 5 year sentencing guidelines.

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Fact #3 : German Parliament Has Not Approved The Law

The German Federal Cabinet’s decision to amend the law does not immediately change it, as the The People’s Voice article appears to suggest.

Even though the German government urgently wants to implement the amended law, it has not been approved by the Bundestag – the German parliament. Until the new law is approved, the existing law continues to be in effect.

Fact #4 : The People’s Voice Source Clearly Explained Reasons

The People’s Voice article printed quotes from the German news service, Tagesshau, as “evidence”.

However, the Tagesshau article (machine translation) clearly states that the punishment was only partially reversed, which completely refutes The People’s Voice‘s claim that Germany has decriminalised child pornography.

Cabinet partially reverses increased punishment

The penalties for possession and distribution of child pornography are to be partially weakened. One reason: Until now, parents who forwarded images to highlight grievances also had to be punished.

After criticism from practice, the Federal Cabinet has decided to change some points in the criminal law provisions that came into force in July 2021 on the distribution of depictions of sexual abuse against children. Among other things, according to the draft law, the minimum penalty for disseminating such material will be reduced from one year to six months and for obtaining and possessing it from one year to three months.

Anyone reading even the title can clearly understand that child pornography has not been decriminalised in Germany. Why on Earth would anyone claim otherwise???

Fact #5 : There Is No Media Blackout

The People’s Voice article suggested in its title that there is a media blackout. That’s easily refuted. For one thing – its own article quotes the German news service, Tagesshau!

And anyone who bothers to look it up online, can easily find articles on the proposed amendment of the law. Heck, it was even reported by the Associated Press!

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Fact #6 : The People’s Voice Is Known For Publishing Fake News

The People’s Voice is the current name for NewsPunch, which possibly changed its name because its brand has been so thoroughly discredited after posting numerous shocking but fake stories.

Founded as Your News Wire in 2014, it was rebranded as NewsPunch in November 2018, before becoming The People’s Voice. A 2017 BuzzFeed report identified NewsPunch as the second-largest source of popular fake news on Facebook that year.

Its articles have been regularly debunked as fake news, so you should never share anything from NewsPunch / The People’s Voice.  Here are some of its fake stories that I fact checked earlier:

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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