Child pornography is illegal in most countries, but there is substantial variation in definitions, categories, penalties, and interpretations of laws. Differences include the definition of "child" under the laws, which can vary with the age of sexual consent; the definition of "child pornography" itself, for example on the basis of medium or degree of reality; and which actions are criminal (e.g. production, distribution, possession, and/or downloading and viewing of material).[1] Laws surrounding fictional child pornography are a major source of variation between jurisdictions; some maintain distinctions in legality between real and fictive pornography depicting minors, while others regulate fictive material under general laws against child pornography.

Several organizations and treaties have set non-binding guidelines (model legislation) for countries to follow. While a country may be a signatory, they may or may not have chosen to implement these guidelines.

International stance

Organizations

International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC)
This organization combats child sexual exploitation, child pornography, and child abduction. For child pornography they have set up "model legislation" which defines child pornography, and sets up recommended sanctions/sentencing. According to research performed in 2018; child pornography is illegal in 118 of the 196 Interpol member states. This figure represents countries that have sufficient legislation in establishing 4 or 5 of 5 criteria met as defined by the ICMEC.[1]
ECPAT International (ECPAT)
ECPAT focuses on halting the online sexual exploitation of children, the trafficking of children for sexual purposes and the sexual exploitation of children in the travel and tourism industry. This organization tracks countries that have implemented standards as defined by agreements such as the Convention on Cybercrime, and Lanzarote Convention through their human rights reports.[2][3]

Treaties

At least 2 major treaties are in place with 1 "optional protocol" to combat child pornography worldwide. These are considered International obligations to pass specific laws against child pornography which should be "punishable by appropriate penalties that take into account their grave nature". The first of these treaties has to do with The Council of Europe's Cybercrime Convention, the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, and the EU Framework Decision that became active in 2006. These required signatory or member states to criminalize all aspects of child pornography.[4] The second involves the United Nations which established Article 34 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). This stated that all signatories shall take appropriate measures to prevent the exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials. An optional protocol was also added that requires signatories to outlaw the "producing, distributing, disseminating, importing, exporting, offering, selling or possessing for the above purposes" of child pornography.[5] Some of the negotiations and reviews of the process took place at the World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children held in 1996 and 2001.[6]

Debate

While laws criminalizing child sexual abuse now exist in all countries of the world,[7][8] more diversity in law exists on issues such as the exact minimum age of those depicted in pornography, whether the mere possession of child pornography should be a crime, or whether sentences for such possession should be modified. Convictions for possessing child pornography also usually include prison sentences, but those sentences are often converted to probation for first-time offenders.[4]

In 1999, in the case of R. v. Sharpe, British Columbia's highest court struck down a law against possessing child pornography as unconstitutional.[9] That opinion, written by Justice Duncan Shaw, held, "There is no evidence that demonstrates a significant increase in the danger to children caused by pornography", and "A person who is prone to act on his fantasies will likely do so irrespective of the availability of pornography."[10] The Opposition in the Canadian Parliament considered invoking the notwithstanding clause to override the court's ruling.[11] However, it was not necessary because the Canadian Supreme Court overturned the decision with several findings including that viewing such material makes it more likely that the viewer will abuse, that the existence of such materials further hurts the victims as they know of its existence, and that the demand for such images encourages the abuse.[12]

In the United States, some federal judges have argued that the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines' recommended penalties for possessors of child pornography are too harsh.[13] Judge Jack B. Weinstein of New York criticizes the mandatory sentence for possession of child pornography as often higher than the penalty for actually committing the act of child abuse it depicts. Furthermore, child pornography prosecutions have led to dozens of suicides, some of them among the innocently accused.[14] The requirement that people convicted of possessing child pornography pay restitution has been criticized by some judges and law professors. This has been particularly controversial in cases involving millions of dollars of restitution, as in those pertaining to the Misty Series.[15] But in 2010, the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that restitution directly to depicted minors was an appropriate penalty for possession of child pornography.[16]

During the nomination process at the 2008 Libertarian National Convention, anarcho-capitalist and U.S. presidential candidate Mary Ruwart came under fire for her comment in her 1998 book, Short answers to the tough questions, in which she stated her opposition not only to laws against possession of child pornography but even against its production, based on her belief that such laws actually encourage such behavior by increasing prices.[17] Shane Cory, on behalf of the minarchist United States Libertarian Party in his role as executive director, issued a response saying, "We have an obligation to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse, and we can do this by increasing communication between state and federal agencies to help combat this repulsive industry. While privacy rights should always be respected in the pursuit of child pornographers, more needs to be done to track down and prosecute the twisted individuals who exploit innocent children." Cory resigned after the party refused to vote on a resolution asking states to strongly enforce existing child porn laws.[18]

Status by country

Table legend
Legality Description
Illegal Real child pornography: This tag assumes the sale, production, and distribution of child pornography is illegal (de jure) by default unless stated otherwise.

Fictional child pornography: This tag assumes the sale, production, and distribution of fictional child pornography is illegal (de jure) by default unless stated otherwise.
Possession: Possessing (including simple possession) is illegal (de jure) for both fictional and real child pornography by default unless stated otherwise.

Situational Real child pornography: This may cover a partially legal situation, or one where the law is not enforced. Details can be found in the "short summary" section.

Fictional child pornography: This is used when fictional child pornography is not clearly defined by law, or for countries which define what parts are legal/Illegal.
Possession: If only fictional child pornography is legal, then by default possession of it is legal as well. This also covers partly legal and unenforced situations.

Legal Real or fictional child pornography: No restrictions are in place.

Possession: No restrictions are in place.

No data The status of the law is unknown, this may change with additional sourcing.

Africa

Country[Note 1] Real Fictional Possession Short summary
Algeria Algeria Illegal Illegal Illegal Child pornography is illegal in Algeria by any means per Article 333 bis 1 of their penal code.[19] Punishments include prison sentences from two months to two years as well as fines of up to DZD 2,000 ($18).[20]
Angola Angola Illegal No data Legal Article 184 of the Angolan penal code prohibits the production, transport and sale of sexually explicit material involving a child.[21] The law does not include simple possession or mention fictional material.[22]
Benin Benin Illegal Illegal Illegal The "Child Code" of Benin prohibits child pornography including possession and simulated images. Persons convicted of child pornography face sentences of two to five years’ imprisonment and fines ranging from two to five million CFA francs ($3,610 to $9,025).[1]
Botswana Botswana Illegal Illegal: electronic forms Illegal Possession of child pornography is illegal in Botswana, and punishable with between 5 and 15 years' imprisonment.[23] Electronic forms of an apparent child are also illegal, but define a "child" as under the age of 14.[24]
Burkina Faso Burkina Faso Illegal; not defined Legal Legal Child pornography is illegal in Burkina Faso, but not clearly defined. Mere possession, simulated representations, or realistic images of a non-existent child are not criminalized.[25][26]
Burundi Burundi Illegal No data Legal Child pornography is illegal in Burundi and punishable by fines and between 3 and 5 years in prison.[27] Possession of child pornography is not criminalized.[28]
Cameroon Cameroon Illegal Illegal Illegal Producing, possessing, or distributing child pornography is illegal in Cameroon with punishments of 5 to 10 years of imprisonment and fines from 5 million CFA francs to 10 million CFA francs.[19][29] Virtual child pornography (“realistic” images) and a person “appearing” to be a child are also punishable conducts.[30]
Cape Verde Cape Verde Illegal No data Illegal Cape Verdean law prohibits the use of children under age 18 in pornography, with penalties for conviction of up to three years’ imprisonment.[1][31]
Central African Republic Central African Republic Legal Legal Legal No laws in the Central African Republic prohibit child pornography.[32]
Chad Chad Illegal No data Illegal Article 362 of the Penal Code 2017 of Chad criminalizes the production, distribution, importation, exportation, supply, making available, sale, obtaining or handing over to others, possession of any material.[1]
Comoros Comoros Illegal No data No data Conviction of child pornography is punishable in Comoros by fines or imprisonment.[33] There is no information available regarding fictional forms or mere possession.
Democratic Republic of the Congo Democratic Republic of the Congo Illegal Illegal No data The Democratic Republic of the Congo's penal code prohibits child pornography by any means whatsoever. Those convicted face 10 to 20 years imprisonment.[1][34]
Republic of the Congo Republic of Congo Illegal No data Illegal Child pornography (including possession) in the Republic of the Congo is punishable by Article 66 of the Law on the Protection of the Child of the Republic of Congo (Law No. 4-2010).[1]
Djibouti Djibouti Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography are prohibited.[35]
Egypt Egypt Illegal; not defined Illegal Illegal While all forms of pornography are prohibited, Egyptian laws do not specifically define or prohibit child pornography.[36][37]
Equatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea Legal Legal Legal No laws in Equatorial Guinea prohibit child pornography.[38]
Eritrea Eritrea Illegal No data No data Child pornography is illegal in Eritrea, however this law does not mention possession or anything fictional.[39]
Eswatini Eswatini Illegal Illegal Illegal Practices related to child pornography are illegal in Eswatini under the "Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act, 2018".[40] Offenders face up to 25 years imprisonment.[41]
Ethiopia Ethiopia Illegal; not defined Illegal: electronic forms Illegal Child pornography is illegal (but not defined) in Ethiopia per Article 12 of the "Computer Crime Proclamation (2016)" act.[42][43] There is no information given for physical forms such as drawings or paintings.
Gabon Gabon Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography are prohibited.[44]
The Gambia The Gambia Illegal; not defined No data Legal While child pornography is illegal in the Gambia, the law in place is "extremely under-developed".[45] Mere possession of "child sexual abuse materials" is not criminalized.[45]
Ghana Ghana Illegal; not defined Illegal Illegal Child pornography is illegal in Ghana, but no clear definition is given on what “sexually explicit conduct” means leaving the law open for discretion.[46] Virtual child pornography (“realistic” images) and a person “appearing” to be a child are also punishable conducts.[30]
Guinea Guinea Illegal, but unenforced Illegal, but unenforced Illegal, but unenforced Child pornography in any representation is illegal in Guinea under the "Criminal Code Act (1974)".[47] The United States Department of State notes that this law is "generally unenforced".[48]
Guinea-Bissau Guinea-Bissau Legal; distribution only No data Legal Child pornography is illegal in Guinea-Bissau, but possession and distribution are not criminally prohibited.[49][50]
Ivory Coast Ivory Coast Illegal No data No data The law in Ivory Coast prohibits the use, recruitment, or offering of minors for commercial sex or use in pornographic films, pictures, or events.[51]
Kenya Kenya Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography are prohibited.[52]
Lesotho Lesotho Illegal No data No data Child pornography is illegal in Lesotho, and is punishable by not less than 10 years’ imprisonment.[53]
Liberia Liberia Illegal Illegal Illegal Child pornography is illegal "in any form or manner" and is punishable by up to five years' imprisonment.[1][54]
Libya Libya No data No data No data No data is available regarding child pornography in Libya.[55] The Second Libyan Civil War had complicated efforts to get an accurate assessment.
Madagascar Madagascar Illegal Illegal Illegal Article 346 of the Penal Code of Madagascar criminalizes the use of “any means” to disseminate child pornography.[1] Officials have stated that the laws were often not uniformly interpreted or applied.[56]
Malawi Malawi Illegal Illegal Illegal Although laws in Malawi do not clearly define child pornography, it criminalises possession with a sanction of 14 years’ imprisonment. This covers any visual depiction, including any photograph, film, video, image, whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means.[57]
Mali Mali Illegal No data No data Penalties for conviction of indecent assault, including child pornography, range from five to 20 years in prison.[58]
Mauritania Mauritania Illegal No data Illegal Possession of child pornography is illegal in Mauritania with penalties of 2 months to 1 year in prison and a fine.[59]
Mauritius Mauritius Illegal No data Illegal While child pornography is illegal in Mauritius, the law allows the offender to present a defense when it comes to distribution or possession. It is pointed out by ECPAT that this could lead to a restriction in bringing offenders to justice.[60][61]
Morocco Morocco
(including Western Sahara)
Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography are prohibited.[62][63] However, there are no regulations when it comes to using children in illicit activities in Western Sahara.[64]
Mozambique Mozambique Illegal, partly enforced No data Illegal, partly enforced Child pornography is illegal in Mozambique but is only partly enforced.[1][65]
Namibia Namibia Illegal No data Illegal Production and possession of child pornography is illegal in Namibia.[66]
Niger Niger Illegal No data No data Child pornography is illegal in Niger.[67]
Nigeria Nigeria Illegal Illegal Illegal The Child Rights Act makes child pornography illegal in Nigeria, but not all states have implemented it.[68] It is also criminalized by the Cybercrimes Prohibition Act of 2015.[69] Virtual child pornography (“realistic” images) and a person “appearing” to be a child are also punishable conducts.[30]
Rwanda Rwanda Illegal Illegal No data Child pornography is illegal in Rwanda, and convictions are punishable by life imprisonment along with a substantial monetary fine.[70] The law also applies to "objects of sexual nature" which includes the production of writings and drawings.[71]
São Tomé and Príncipe São Tomé and Príncipe Illegal No data No data Child pornography is illegal in São Tomé and Príncipe per article 180 of the penal code.[1][72]
Senegal Senegal Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography are prohibited.[73][74]
Seychelles Seychelles Illegal No data Illegal Producing or possessing child pornography is illegal in Seychelles, with imprisonment for conviction of up to 20 years.[75]
Sierra Leone Sierra Leone Illegal Illegal Illegal Child pornography is illegal in Sierra Leone ("includes other visual representation") punishable by a term of imprisonment of not more than 10 years.[1][76]
Somalia Somalia Legal Legal Legal No laws in Somalia criminally prohibit child pornography.[77]
South Africa South Africa Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of child pornography are illegal in South Africa. This includes possessing, creating, or importing any image or description of a person "real or simulated".[78][79]
South Sudan South Sudan Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography are prohibited.[80]
Sudan Sudan Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography are prohibited.[81]
Tanzania Tanzania Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography are prohibited.[82]
Togo Togo Illegal Illegal Illegal Child pornography is illegal in Togo by any means whatsoever, and is punishable by 5 to 10 years in prison.[1][83]
Tunisia Tunisia Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography are prohibited.[84]
Uganda Uganda Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of child pornography are prohibited.[85]
Zambia Zambia Illegal; not defined Illegal Illegal Child pornography is illegal in Zambia but is not defined.[86][87]
Zimbabwe Zimbabwe Illegal No data Illegal Child pornography is illegal in Zimbabwe as anyone in possession can be charged with public indecency which is punishable by a 'small fine", imprisonment up to 6 months, or both.[88]
Country[Note 1] Real Fictional Possession Short summary

Asia

See also: Pornography in Asia

Country[Note 1] Real Fictional Possession Short summary
Afghanistan Afghanistan No data No data No data Child pornography was illegal in Afghanistan per their penal code: “[i]f an adult male has intercourse with a person younger than the legal age, his act shall be considered rape and the victim's consent is invalid.” This law also applies to women offenders who may be additionally charged with adultery.[89] As the Taliban are now in control, the status of the law remains unknown.
Armenia Armenia Illegal No data No data Child pornography is illegal in Armenia and punishable by up to 7 years in prison.[90]
Azerbaijan Azerbaijan Illegal Illegal No data All forms of child pornography are illegal in Azerbaijan, but laws regarding simple possession are not stated.[91][92]
Bahrain Bahrain Illegal No data Legally unclear: In hand Child pornography is forbidden in Bahrain, its legally unclear if this applies to non electronic possession or fictional forms.[93][94]
Bangladesh Bangladesh Illegal Legal Legally unclear: fictional Child pornography is illegal in Bangladesh except for virtual forms which are not addressed.[95]
Bhutan Bhutan Illegal Legally unclear No data Child pornography is illegal in Bhutan as it falls under "obscene material". Virtual child pornography, and mere possession are not addressed.[96][97]
Brunei Brunei Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography are prohibited.[98]
Cambodia Cambodia Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography are prohibited in Cambodia, which includes photographs and drawings.[99]
China People's Republic of China (+HK, MAC) Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography are prohibited with the exceptions of Hong Kong and Macau, which only make child pornography illegal.[100][101]
Cyprus Cyprus Illegal No data Illegal Child pornography is illegal in Cyprus with maximum sentences of up to life in prison.[102]
India India Illegal Legal Illegal All forms of pornography except fictional are prohibited.[103][104]
Indonesia Indonesia Illegal, not defined Illegal, not defined Illegal, not defined All forms of pornography in Indonesia are prohibited in theory. The law makes no clear definition of child pornography and its forms.[105]
Iran Iran Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography are prohibited.[106]
Iraq Iraq Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography are prohibited.[107]
Israel Israel (excluding Palestinian territories) Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of child pornography are illegal in Israel. This includes possession and fictional depictions.[108]
Japan Japan Illegal Legal Legal; fictional only Simple possession, production, and distribution of child pornography is illegal in Japan.[109][110] Fictional child pornography such as Lolicon, and Shotacon are excluded from the law. These fall under "cultural and artistic activities" which are protected by freedom of expression.[111]
Jordan Jordan Legal; restricted online Legally unclear Legal Child pornography is not explicitly defined nor criminalized in the Jordanian legislation, but there are online laws in place which criminalize dissemination.[112]
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan Illegal No data Legal Child pornography is illegal in Kazakhstan except for mere possession.[113] The law also provides administrative penalties to cover the sale of pornographic materials to minors.[114]
North Korea North Korea Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography are prohibited.[115][116]
South Korea South Korea Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography (real or fictional) are prohibited. These actively enforced laws also allow government monitoring and censorship, possession of any form (child or not) is also illegal.[117][118]
Kuwait Kuwait Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography are prohibited.[119]
Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan Illegal; not defined Legally unclear Legal; some restrictions While child pornography is illegal in Kyrgyzstan, there is no legislation that defines child pornography by law.[120] Computer related activities such as access to child pornography online, and mere possession are not fully criminalized.[120][121]
Laos Laos Illegal Legally unclear Legal Laws in Laos prohibit the dissemination of pornography, giving it a broad definition that could be interpreted to include simulated representations of children. Simple possession is not criminalized.[122]
Lebanon Lebanon Illegal Illegal No data The Penal Code and Law 422 protect children from child pornography which include the artificial practice of simulating sexual activities or virtual portrayals.[123][124]
Malaysia Malaysia Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography are prohibited.[125][126] Images of naked children or children taking part in a sexual act is haram in Islam.[127]
Maldives Maldives Illegal; not defined Legally unclear Illegal While all forms of pornography are prohibited in Maldives under Sharia, there are no specific provisions defining "child pornography".[128][129]
Mongolia Mongolia Illegal; not defined Legally unclear No data While illegal, there are no specific provisions focused on child pornography. Legal penalties depend on the interpretation of other related laws.[130]
Myanmar Myanmar Illegal No data No data Child pornography is illegal in Myanmar, it is unknown if the law covers simple possession or fictional forms.[131]
Nepal Nepal Illegal Legal Legally unclear; real Nepalese law prohibits taking or allowing to be taken any photograph of children for the purpose of engaging a child in immoral profession. Virtual child pornography is not criminalized under Nepalese law, while mere possession under "real" is not mentioned.[132][133]
Oman Oman Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography are prohibited.[134]
Pakistan Pakistan Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography (adult and child) are prohibited.[135][136]
Philippines Philippines Illegal Illegal Illegal[Note 2] The "Anti-Child Pornography Act" makes child pornography illegal in the Philippines in all forms.[138]
Qatar Qatar Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography are prohibited.[139]
Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia Illegal No data Illegal Child pornography is illegal in Saudi Arabia. This includes possession but virtual/fictional forms are not addressed.[140]
Singapore Singapore Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography are prohibited.[141][142][143] ICMEC Singapore has a voluntary Asia-Pacific Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography (APAC-FCACP) to fight online child sexual exploitation.[144]
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka Illegal; not defined Legally unclear Illegal Child pornography is illegal in Sri Lanka, but is undefined, and not always enforced by authorities.[145][146] Virtual child pornography is not explicitly addressed in the law.[146]
Syria Syria Illegal, possibly unenforced No data Illegal, possibly unenforced Syrian law considers child pornography a trafficking crime, but the punishment for child pornography is set at the local level with unclear enforcement.[147]
Taiwan Taiwan Illegal Legally unclear Illegal The "Child and Youth Sexual Exploitation Prevention Act" criminalizes the production, broadcast, distribution, and exhibition of pornography. Simple possession of such materials without justifiable cause is punishable by fines.[148] The law doesn't explicitly include "simulated images".[149]
Tajikistan Tajikistan Illegal Legally unclear Legal Child pornography is illegal in Tajikistan, except for possession which is not mentioned by law.[150][151] Virtual child pornography, and suggestive representations of children are not defined.[150]
Thailand Thailand Illegal Legally unclear Illegal Child pornography including possession is illegal in Thailand.[152] According to ECPAT though, the law does not reflect the definition of virtual “child pornography” set forth in international legal instruments.[153]
East Timor East Timor Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of child pornography including possession of it is illegal in East Timor. Convictions are punishable with 3 to 10 years imprisonment.[154]
Turkey Turkey Illegal No data No data Child pornography is illegal in Turkey with imprisonment of up to two years and a fine for violations.[155]
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan Illegal; not defined Legally unclear No data While there are no specific child pornography laws in Turkmenistan, legislation states that the production and dissemination of (child) pornographic printed publications, films or any pornographic items shall be prohibited.[156][157]
United Arab Emirates United Arab Emirates Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography are prohibited.[158]
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan Illegal No data Legal Although the production and distribution of child pornography are criminally prohibited, possession is not criminalized in Uzbekistan.[159]
Vietnam Vietnam Illegal; not defined Legally unclear No data Child pornography is illegal, but not defined under Vietnamese law.[160] The production, distribution, dissemination, and sale of material deemed to be child pornography is punishable by 3 to 10 years in prison.[161] Virtual "child pornography" is not defined or explicitly criminalized.[160]
Yemen Yemen Illegal, but unenforced No data No data The legal framework in Yemen does not adequately prohibit child pornography.[162] This country has been hampered by an ongoing civil war since 2014, and the extent of Sharia law implementation is unclear.[163]
Country[Note 1] Real Fictional Possession Short summary

Europe

See also: Pornography in Europe

Country[Note 1] Real Fictional Possession Short summary
Albania Albania Illegal Legal Legal; fictional only The production and distribution of child pornography is illegal in Albania, and is punishable by a prison sentence of three to 10 years.[164] While the possession of "real" child pornography is illegal, there are no provisions for fictional forms.[165]
Andorra Andorra Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of child pornography (real or fictional) including ownership are illegal in Andorra. Prison sentences range from one to four years depending on the severity of the crime committed.[166][167]
Austria Austria Illegal Legal; not realistic Legal; fictional only Child pornography is illegal in Austria except for unrealistic depictions.[168][169] Photorealistic (lit. "close to reality") forms are prohibited, and are treated as regular child pornography.[168]
Belarus Belarus Illegal Legal Legal Producing and distributing pornographic materials depicting a minor is illegal in Belarus, and punishable by up to 13 years in prison.[170] The law does not criminalize simple possession or virtual forms of "child pornography".[171]
Belgium Belgium Illegal Legal; not realistic Legal; fictional only Possession of, producing, and disseminating child pornography is illegal in Belgium.[172] While fictional child pornography is legal, the law applies to pornographic art that realistically depicts underage characters.[173]
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina Illegal Illegal Illegal The Criminal Codes of FBiH, RS, and BD prohibit the production, possession, and distribution of child pornography.[174] These laws also apply to a person who "looks like a child" ” in real or explicitly simulated evident sexual behaviour.[175]
Bulgaria Bulgaria Illegal Legal Legal; fictional only Child pornography and possession is illegal in Bulgaria.[176][177] Fictional forms such as "realistic images" or "virtual" representations are not included nor criminalized.[176][178]
Croatia Croatia Illegal Legal; Artwork only Legal; Artwork only Child pornography is illegal in Croatia with laws actively enforced.[179][180] Fictional forms are only allowed if they are considered to be "artistic, medical, scientific, and informative" content.[180]
Czech Republic Czech Republic Illegal No data Illegal Child pornography and possession is illegal in the Czech Republic with laws that are actively enforced.[181] There is no information regarding the implementation of fictional child pornography laws.
Denmark Denmark
(including all territories)
Illegal Legal Legal; fictional only Possession, distribution, and production of child pornography is illegal under Danish law. Penalties for the distribution of child pornography include up to a six-year prison sentence.[182][183] Fictional forms are legal as there are no laws in Denmark which prohibit "pornographic" drawings of children.[184]
Estonia Estonia Illegal Illegal Illegal Child pornography is illegal in Estonia with punishments ranging from a fine to three years in prison.[185] While fictional forms are also illegal per article 178 of the Penal Code, this law does not apply to Estonian citizens who legally commit the offense abroad.[186]
Finland Finland
(including Åland)
Illegal Legal; not realistic Legal; fictional only Under Finnish law, it is illegal to possess, produce or distribute child pornography.[187] If there is no child (defined as a real person) in child pornography, then it is legal depending on realism.[187]
France France
(including all territories)
Illegal Legal; Artwork only Legal; Artwork only Child pornography is illegal in France, with a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison and a 75,000 fine for its use and distribution.[188] Fictional forms are also covered in the law except for works which are deemed artistic in value.[188][189]
Georgia (country) Georgia Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of child pornography including possession are illegal in Georgia, and punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment.[1][190]
Germany Germany Illegal Legal; No real events related Legal; fictional only Distributing, acquiring, and possessing child pornography is illegal in Germany with punishments from one year to 10 years imprisonment.[191] Fictional "child pornography" is legal as long as it does not produce or reproduce an actual event.[191]
Greece Greece Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of child pornography are illegal in Greece. Article 348A of the Greek criminal code punishes offenders with imprisonment of at least one year and a fine of €10,000 to €100,000.[192]
Hungary Hungary Illegal Legal Legal; fictional only Child pornography and possession is illegal in Hungary per "Act C" of the 2012 criminal code. Hungarian law defines "child pornography" as "any video, movie or photograph or other form of recording".[193] This law does not include capturing a child (under 18) by drawing or painting.[194][195]
Iceland Iceland Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography (adult and child) are prohibited.[196]
Republic of Ireland Ireland Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of child pornography and possession are illegal in Ireland.[197] This includes 'pornography" that doesn't contain any "real children".[198]
Italy Italy Illegal Illegal; Virtual forms No data; fictional only Child pornography and possession is illegal in Italy per Article 600 of the Italian criminal code. While this law also includes realistic virtual depictions, other fictional forms are unclear.[199][200]
Latvia Latvia Illegal Legal; Artwork only Legal; Artwork only All forms of child pornography are prohibited in Latvia except for works that are educational, informative, scientific, or artistic in value.[201]
Liechtenstein Liechtenstein Illegal Illegal Illegal Possession or distribution of child pornography is a criminal offense, with penalties of up to three years in prison.[202] The legal definition of "pornographic depictions of minors" makes no distinction between real or fictional pornography.[203]
Lithuania Lithuania Illegal Illegal Illegal Child pornography and possession is illegal in Lithuania per Articles 162 and 309 of the Lithuanian criminal code. This law includes material "displaying a child or presenting a person as a child", with punishments of up to 3 years imprisonment.[204]
Luxembourg Luxembourg Illegal; not defined No data Illegal Child pornography (including possession) is illegal in Luxembourg. An ongoing issue is that there is no clear definition for "child pornography" as highly sexualised pictures of children are sometimes considered perfectly legal.[205][206] The law does not mention fictional forms leaving no data available.
Malta Malta Illegal No data Illegal Child pornography and possession is illegal in Malta with punishments ranging from 3 to 12 years imprisonment depending on the action involved.[207]
Moldova Moldova Illegal No data Illegal Child pornography and possession is illegal in Moldova with punishments ranging from 1 to 3 years imprisonment.[208]
Monaco Monaco Illegal Legally unclear; unrealistic Legally unclear: fictional Child pornography and possession is illegal in Monaco per Article 294-3 of the Monacan criminal code. The law also includes falsified "realistic" images of a physical person that was fully or partially created using digital technology.[209] No information is given for other possible real or unrealistic forms.
Montenegro Montenegro Illegal; not defined Legally unclear Legally unclear: fictional Article 211 of the Criminal Code criminalises “pornographic” content and performances but does not define the term “pornographic” or what is considered to be “child pornography”.[210][211] Fictional forms are not defined or criminalized, but a provision under Article 211 could cover them.[211]
Netherlands Netherlands
(including all territories)
Illegal Legally unclear; unrealistic Legally unclear: fictional Child pornography and possession is illegal in the Netherlands per Article 240b of the criminal code.[212] The law also includes "realistic" images which are in a legal grey area, as judgements are made that vary from image to image.[213]
North Macedonia North Macedonia Illegal Legally unclear; unrealistic Legally unclear: fictional Child pornography and possession is illegal in North Macedonia per Article 193 (plus a and b) of the criminal code.[214] The law also covers "realistic pictures" without providing a definition.[214]
Norway Norway
(including all territories)
Illegal Legal; Artwork only Legal; Artwork only Child pornography and possession is illegal in Norway per Section 311 of the penal code. While fictional forms are also possibly covered as "a depiction which sexualises children", the law makes an exception for works deemed to be artistic, scientific, and/or informational.[215]
Poland Poland Illegal; not defined Legally unclear Legally unclear: fictional Child pornography (including possession) is illegal in Poland, but legislation does not define the concept of "child pornography".[216] Fictional forms are in a legal gray area as they could arguably fall under Section 4b of article 202 of the penal code.[216]
Portugal Portugal
(including all territories)
Illegal; not defined Legally unclear Legally unclear: fictional Child pornography (including possession) is illegal in Portugal under Article 176 of the Portuguese penal code, but is not defined.[217] The law is also vague in its definition of "pornographic depictions" when mentioning "realistic representations of children".[217][Note 3]
Romania Romania Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of child pornography (real or fictional) are illegal in Romania. This law includes nonexistent children (virtual child pornography – cartoons, drawings, etc.).[219][220][221]
Russia Russia
(including Crimea)
Illegal; not defined Illegal Legal Destribution or storage with the intend of destribution of child pornography is illegal in Russia, but there is no legal definition of it in Russia's national legislation consistent with the Lanzarote Convention. There is also nothing in the law that prohibits simple possession of child pornography.[222]
San Marino San Marino Illegal No data Legal Child pornography is illegal in San Marino except for simple possession.[223][224] There is no data available for fictional forms.
Serbia Serbia Illegal; not defined Legal; not "abusive" Legal; Fictional only Child pornography (including possession) is illegal in Serbia under article 185 of the criminal code, but is not defined.[225][226] Fictional forms are not criminalized unless they are found to be abusive to a "juvenile" by electronic or other means (which also lacks a definition).[225]
Slovakia Slovakia Illegal No data Illegal Child pornography (including possession) is illegal in Slovakia under sections 368, 369, and 370 of the criminal code.[227] Penalties range from two to 20 years’ imprisonment.[228]
Slovenia Slovenia Illegal Legally unclear; unrealistic Legally unclear: fictional Child pornography (including possession) is illegal in Slovenia under article 176 of the criminal code.[229][230] While the law also covers "pornographic or other sexual material depicting minors or their realistic images", no definition of "realistic" is given.[229]
Spain Spain
(including all territories)
Illegal Legal; not realistic Legal; fictional only Child pornography (including "real" possession) is illegal in Spain per Article 189 of the Spanish criminal code.[231][232] Exceptions include fictional depictions that are not realistic enough to fall under the scope of the law.[233]
Sweden Sweden Illegal Legal Legal; fictional only Child pornography (including "real" possession) is illegal in Sweden per chapter 16, section 10A of the Swedish penal code.[234] Exceptions include the possession of drawings in accordance with freedom of information and expression.[235]
Switzerland Switzerland Illegal Legal Legal; fictional only Child pornography (including "real" possession) is illegal in Switzerland per article 197 of the Swiss Criminal Code.[236][237] This law does not include purely fictional forms such as drawings or virtual depictions.[238]
Ukraine Ukraine Illegal Illegal No data Child pornography is illegal in Ukraine which defies it as a "representation, by whatever means, of a child or a person appearing to be a child".[239][240] Simple possession remains legally questionable as there is no information available.
United Kingdom United Kingdom (including all territories) Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of child pornography (real or fictional) including possession is illegal in the United Kingdom per the Protection of Children Act of 1978. The law includes real and fictional "indecent pseudo-photographs of a child".[241][242] Punishments for indictment incur a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.[243]
Vatican City Vatican City Illegal No data Illegal Pope Francis specifically listed possession of child pornography as a crime against children that can be punished by up to 12 years in prison.[244]
Country[Note 1] Real Fictional Possession Short summary

North America

Country[Note 1] Real Fictional Possession Short summary
Antigua and Barbuda Antigua and Barbuda Illegal No data No data Child pornography is illegal in Antigua and Barbuda. Offenders are subject to fines of up to $500,000 XCD ($185,000) and 20 years in prison.[245]
The Bahamas The Bahamas Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of child pornography including mere possession of it are illegal in the Bahamas. Those found guilty are liable to imprisonment for life.[246]
Barbados Barbados Legal: film distribution only No data Illegal The Protection of Children Act prohibits the use of children in pornographic activities, but this does not apply to distribution of films.[247]
Belize Belize Illegal Illegal Legal The law in Belize does not prohibit the simple possession of child pornography.
Canada Canada Illegal Illegal Illegal Canadian law forbids the production, distribution, and possession of both real and fictional child pornography.[248] Punishments vary from 5 to 20 years in prison depending on the type of offense.[249][250][251]
Costa Rica Costa Rica Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of child pornography including mere possession are illegal in Costa Rica. Defendants found guilty of selling, financing, distributing or exhibiting child pornography will serve convictions of four to eight years.[252][253]
Cuba Cuba Illegal No data Legal Child pornography is illegal in Cuba, and the law imposes seven- to 15-years’ imprisonment. Mere possession of child pornography is not criminalized.[254]
Dominica Dominica Legal Legal Legal There are no laws in Dominica that prohibit child pornography.[255]
Dominican Republic Dominican Republic Illegal Illegal Illegal: electronic form Laws in the Dominican Republic contain specific provisions that prohibit child pornography.[252][256] Possession is only illegal in electronic form.[257]
El Salvador El Salvador Illegal, but unenforced Legal Legal; Fictional only El Salvador's penal Code prohibits child pornography involving real children. This remains unenforced due to inadequate training and resources.[252][258]
Grenada Grenada Illegal: electronic forms Legal; complex situation[Note 4] Illegal: electronic forms Electronic forms of child pornography are illegal in Grenada under the Electronic Crimes Act. Psychical forms and possession of them are not mentioned.[259]
Guatemala Guatemala Illegal; production Illegal Legal Production of child pornography is illegal in Guatemala. Non-realistic images of child pornography are also criminalized, but possession remains legal.[252][260]
Haiti Haiti Illegal, but unenforced Legal Legal Haitian law prohibits child pornography, but there are no mechanisms established for enforcement.[261] There are also no provisions on the production, possession, and dissemination of child pornography.[262]
Honduras Honduras Illegal Legal Legal; Fictional only Pornography involving real children is illegal in Honduras. Penalties range from 4 to 15 years imprisonment from possession to distribution, production, etc.[252][263]
Jamaica Jamaica Illegal Illegal Illegal The production, possession, importation, exportation, and distribution of child pornography is illegal in Jamaica and is punishable by a maximum penalty of 23 years in prison and a fine of J$500,000.[264]
Mexico Mexico Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of child pornography are illegal in Mexico with prison sentences ranging from six months to 12 years depending on the felon's age.[252][265]
Nicaragua Nicaragua Illegal Illegal No data All forms of child pornography are illegal in Nicaragua, including fictional drawings.[252] The government generally enforces the law with prison sentences ranging from 10 to 15 years.[266]
Panama Panama Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of child pornography including possession are illegal in Panama.[252][267]
Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Kitts and Nevis Illegal: electronic forms Illegal; realistic images Illegal; electronic forms The criminal code makes publishing, producing, or possessing child pornography through an electronic device a crime. There is no information given on psychical forms, unrealistic images, and possession of them.[268]
Saint Lucia Saint Lucia Legal Legal Legal There are no laws in Saint Lucia that define or specifically prohibit child pornography.[269]
Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago Illegal No data Illegal Child pornography and possession of it is illegal in Trinidad and Tobago. Offenders are liable on conviction on indictment, to a fine of thirty thousand dollars and to imprisonment for ten years.[270]
United States United States (including all territories) Illegal Illegal if obscene Illegal unless fictional and not obscene The U.S. laws against child pornography are virtually always enforced and among the harshest in the world.[271] Fictional child pornography and erotica are protected as artwork under freedom of expression, unless it is considered obscene.[Note 5]
Country[Note 1] Real Fictional Possession Short summary

Oceania

Country[Note 1] Real Fictional Possession Short summary
Australia Australia (all states and territories) Illegal Illegal Illegal Acts such as possession, production and distribution of child pornography (real or fictional) are illegal in Australia, and can be punished by up to a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and/or a $275,000 fine.[275][276][277]
Federated States of Micronesia Federated States of Micronesia Illegal; in Pohnpei No data No data Only Pohnpei has a statute prohibiting child pornography. Both Chuuk and Pohnpei have provisions against filming explicit movies of underage children, but Yap and Kosrae have no such provisions.[278]
Fiji Fiji Legal; laws pending Legal; laws pending Legal; laws pending Fiji ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, but has yet to implement it.[279]
Kiribati Kiribati Legal Legal Legal Kiribati's penal code has no specific provision concerning child pornography.[280]
Marshall Islands Marshall Islands Illegal; not defined No data Legal Child pornography is criminalized, but not defined in the Marshall Islands.[281] There is no mention of production, possession or dissemination of child pornography in the law.[282]
Nauru Nauru Illegal No data No data All forms of child pornography are illegal in Nauru.[283] It's unclear if this applies to unrealistic images or for possession.
New Zealand New Zealand (including all territories) Illegal Illegal Illegal Browsing for, distributing, producing, and possessing child pornography are all illegal in New Zealand.[284]
Palau Palau Legal Legal Legal No laws in Palau prohibit child pornography.[285]
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea Illegal Illegal Illegal All forms of pornography (including websites) are illegal in Papua New Guinea. Child pornography is punishable by 5 to 15 years' imprisonment and/or a fine up to 2 million kina.[286]
Samoa Samoa Illegal Illegal Illegal Samoan law specifies a seven-year prison sentence for any person found guilty of possessing, publishing, distributing, or exhibiting indecent material featuring a child.[287][288]
Solomon Islands Solomon Islands Illegal No data Illegal Child pornography is illegal in the Solomon Islands, and carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.[289][290]
Tonga Tonga Legal: film production only No data Illegal Child pornography and possession is illegal in Tonga with penalties of a maximum fine of TOP 100,000 ($43,000) or a maximum of 10 years in prison for individuals. Using children younger than 14 in the production of pornography is not criminalized.[291][292]
Tuvalu Tuvalu Legally unclear No data Illegal; adult pornography All forms of pornography are prohibited, and the penal code includes penalties for those who make, distribute, or possess obscene publications. However, Tuvaluan law does not specifically address child pornography.[293]
Vanuatu Vanuatu Illegal No data Illegal The maximum penalty in Vanuatu for publishing child pornography is five years’ imprisonment, and for possession, two years’ imprisonment.[294]
Country[Note 1] Real Fictional Possession Short summary

South America

Country[Note 1] Real Fictional Possession Short summary
Argentina Argentina Illegal No data Illegal The law in Argentina prohibits the possession and distribution of child pornography with prison sentences between four months and one year for possession and three to six years for distribution.[295] Fictional child pornography is in a gray area as the law does not specifically mention it.[296]
Bolivia Bolivia Illegal Legal Legal; Fictional only Child pornography is illegal, and is persecuted in Bolivia. Sentences are punishable by privation of freedom from 2 to 6 years.[297] Fictional child pornography and possession remains legal.[298][252]
Brazil Brazil Illegal Legal Legal; Fictional only Production, distribution and possession of child pornography is illegal, and prosecuted in Brazil in accordance with its "Code of Minors".[299] Fictional child pornography and possession remains legal.[300][301]
Chile Chile Illegal Illegal Illegal Possession of child pornography real or faked, or any representation of their genitalia with the purpose of sexual gratification is illegal under Chilean law. Sentences are punishable from 541 days to 5 years imprisonment depending on the situation.[302]
Colombia Colombia Illegal Legal Legal; Fictional only Real child pornography is illegal and is prosecuted in Columbia.[303] The Supreme Court of Justice of Colombia ruled in 2018 that "artificial child pornography" is not a crime. This applies to non nude photographs, drawings, animation, and situations that do not involve actual abuse.[304]
Ecuador Ecuador Illegal Illegal Illegal The possession, storing, fabrication or distribution of child pornography or any other kind of sexually explicit pedophile material is illegal under Ecuadorian law.[305]
Guyana Guyana Legal, restricted by regulations Legal Legal There are no laws in Guyana that specifically prohibit child pornography. The sale, publishing, or exhibiting of obscene material, defined as anything that could deprive or corrupt those open to immoral influences is instead subject to regulations.[306]
Paraguay Paraguay Illegal Legal Legal; Fictional only Child pornography involving actual children is illegal in Paraguay.[307] Virtual forms were not included in the "Paraguayan Criminal Code" of 1997.[308]
Peru Peru Illegal Legal Legal; Fictional only Child pornography is illegal in Peru under article 183-A of the penal code except for fictional material that does not depict a real child.[252][309]
Suriname Suriname Illegal No data Illegal Child pornography is prohibited in Suriname. Convictions carry a maximum penalty of six years’ imprisonment and maximum fine of SRD 50,000 ($6,650).[310][311]
Uruguay Uruguay Illegal Illegal Legal All forms of child pornography are illegal, but Uruguay does not prohibit simple possession.[252][312]
Venezuela Venezuela Illegal Legal Legal Venezuela does not prohibit the simple possession of child pornography.[313] But sale and distribution of child pornography is illegal and punished by fines and/or imprisonment from 3 months to 4 years.[314] There are no laws that criminalize fictional forms.[252]
Country[Note 1] Real Fictional Possession Short summary

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l This only includes sovereign states
  2. ^ Possession with intent to distribute or possession of more than three items is illegal.[137]
  3. ^ "Realistic representations of children includes "virtual child pornography".[218]
  4. ^ Electronic forms of child pornography are legal if "the publication of which is proved to be justified as being for the public good on the ground that such book, pamphlet, paper, writing drawing, painting representation or figure is the interest of science, literature, art or learning or other objects of general concern". The other exemption for this covers "bona fide heritage or religious purposes".[259]
  5. ^ The definition of "obscene" is determined by a sitting judge or jury, and prosecutions of this type are exceedingly rare.[272][273][274]

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