Every Second Counts

Every Second Counts: European-wide petition demands the EU tackles child abuse on the internet and makes the internet safe for children everywhere

On International Children’s Day and the United Nations International Day of the Parent, a coalition of child abuse survivor groups, child protection organisations and parents associations are coming together to demand the EU leaders protect children from online sexual harm.

The coalition is launching a campaign that brings voices and experiences of survivors, safeguarders and supporters calling on citizens of Europe to sign a petition that demands law makers to pass the European Commission’s proposal to prevent and combat child sexual abuse. The campaign, Every Second Counts, stems from the notion that every second two images of a child being sexually abused is shared online.

The legislation, if passed, would be the first of its kind at this scale, providing a template for a global response to an issue that is growing at an alarming rate.

Recent data published by the Internet Watch Foundation about the extent of this crime against children of all ages has greatly increased year on year. More images and videos involving the most heinous sexual abuse were found online in 2022 than ever before. Sickeningly over 80% of URLs containing sexual abuse of children aged 0-2 contained this category of material. They also found that commercial pages exploiting sexual abuse of children have doubled since 2020. As in previous years, the majority of global reports of child sexual abuse material is hosted in an EU Member State.

The petition was launched by the Justice Initiative, a collection of 150 survivor focused organisations from across 13 European countries and is also supported by the Child Safety On campaign, a coalition of child protection organisations spanning Europe.

Children are spending more and more time online through all manner of devices and platforms; the proposal looks to protect children wherever they are so they can live, learn, and thrive in their digital worlds without the threat of online child sexual abuse.

The time to act is now. Every second counts.

EU forced Labour Regulation: EU Council must focus on remediation for victims

EU forced Labour Regulation: EU Council must focus on remediation for victims

Terre des Hommes and its partners, including civil society organisations and trade unions, share concerns about the slow pace of engagement at the European Union (EU) Council level on a proposed EU Forced Labour Regulation.

With the European Parliament actively defining its own position, during the upcoming Spanish Presidency, the EU Council must open avenues for concrete discussions amongst Member States to agree on a general approach that would centre the regulation around remediation of forced labour.

The proposed regulation should help EU companies to meaningfully address forced labour in their value chains, both inside and outside the EU. But the draft Regulation published by the European Commission falls short of attaining this objective. The following serious gaps should be addressed:

  • Forged as a product-based legislation, it does not provide remediation to workers who have experienced forced labour.
  • Targeting product lines alone is a narrow and flawed approach to tackling forced labour. The underlying systemic causes of forced labour are not isolated to product lines within a production site.
  • While foreseeing some transparency requirements, it does not require sufficient transparency and traceability, including when it comes to raw materials.
  • It fails to sufficiently clarify the responsibility of buyers to conduct robust due diligence, in particular in relation to: fair purchasing practices; the need for living wages; support for remediation; and responsible disengagement. It also lacks provisions to discourage buyers from ‘cutting and running’ after identifying forced labour in their supply chains.
  • It offers no concrete protections for whistle-blowers and human rights defenders, including requiring companies to refrain from using strategic lawsuits to silence journalists, workers, or non-governmental organisations that file complaints of forced labour.

Read the full letter to the Spanish EU Presidency from Terre des Hommes and partners.