State Prevention Targeting Persons Attracted to Minors in Europe

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Aleydis Nissen


More than a decade ago, innovative legal obligations were created in Europe to provide persons who fear that they might commit child sexual offences with access, where appropriate, to effective intervention programmes or measures designed to evaluate and prevent the risk of such offences. These supranational obligations were included in Article 7 of the Council of Europe’s Lanzarote Convention (2010) and the near-identical Article 22 of the European Union’s Directive 2011/93 (2011). These provisions have the potential to prevent damaging children’s health, to help persons attracted to minors to lead more productive and fulfilling lives, and to save society substantial resources. The European Commission noted, however, in 2020 that out of all of the state action that needs to be undertaken to implement Directive 2011/93, the least progress has to date been made in relation to prevention programmes for persons attracted to minors who fear that they might offend or have offended. This article aims to review the supranational obligations and their implementation. It finds that the stigma around pedophilia hampers progress at individual, inter-personal, and structural levels. There is room for improvement in the cooperation between the European Union and the Council of Europe. In addition, specific programmes and measures for specific target groups, such as women or people with disabilities, are identified as a blind spot.

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