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Author of the ‘Sweetie’ online sting: 'the internet should be free, but not lawless’

“The Internet should be free, but not lawless,” Hans Guyt, the man behind the “Sweetie” online sting to unmask sexual predators, told a network of PACE parliamentarians today in Geneva. “We need to allow the police to act to prevent the crime of sexual abuse against children before it is committed.”

Mr Guyt is campaigns director for childrens’ rights NGO “Terre des Hommes” Netherlands, whose researchers were able – using a virtual girl called “Sweetie” – to identify over 1,000 adults willing to pay children in developing countries to perform sexual acts in front of webcams, information which they handed to police this week.

Also speaking was Najat Maalla M’jid, UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, who issued an appeal for states to work together more effectively across borders to stop the commercial exploitation of children: “We need to act, and for that, we need political will.”

The latest meeting of PACE’s network of contact parliamentarians to stop sexual violence against children – which brings together one or more members of each parliament in the 47-nation Council of Europe – also focused on how to break taboos surrounding the sexual abuse of children, as part of the Council of Europe’s ongoing ONE in FIVE campaign.