Federal Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) said on Thursday evening the country was fast-tracking tougher punishments for individuals convicted of child sexual abuse.
“I have instructed my house to submit a corresponding regulation as soon as possible,” Lambrecht said to ZDF.
“That can and will also happen quickly.”
The statement comes after a number of high-profile cases of child sex abuse across Germany, including arrests of a 27-year-old man in the north-western city of Münster in relation to a child pornography ring and the ongoing investigations into the German suspect in the Madeline McCann case.
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The prime suspect in the Münster case – arrested along with 11 others – had two previous convictions for child pornography possession.
As it currently stands, child abuse is not considered a ‘crime’ under German law as it is not punishable by more than a one-year sentence, but is rather considered an ‘offence’.
The CDU-SPD governing coalition has a come under significant criticism for failing to change the law, with Lambrecht originally opposed to reforms before more recently changing her tune.
Lambrecht said that “disgusting crimes” of the nature of those seen in Münster should be punished with up to 15 years jail time followed by preventative detention.
North Rhine-Westphalia's Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU), the state in which Münster is situated, warned that it was now up to the federal government to act quickly. “The faster, the better,” said Reul on Thursday.