Dutch legislators have made it a criminal offence to digitally create faked images of child pornography in a move that strengthens the country's existing laws against child abuse.
The Netherlands already has laws against paedophiles who create and distribute images of child abuse, but these measures require the "physical involvement of children" for such acts to be a criminal offence.
The latest legislation creates laws that target the creation of virtual child pornography, or 'Kinderporno', which now carries a sentence of up to four years in prison, or more in the most severe cases. For habitual offenders, or for those earning a living from the offence, the maximum sentence will be six years in jail.
Essentially the law closes a legal loophole. To effectively combat child pornography, particularly on the Internet, the authorities need the power to act against apparently real child porn, even if it doesn't depict actual physical abuse.
Lawmakers have recognised the need to protect children against their images being used in such a way as to suggest sexual abuse.
As part of the law, the Dutch have raised the age limit for pornography to be classed as child pornography from 16 to 18. This puts the country's laws in line with the International Labour Organisation treaty on the eradication of child labour, which it recently ratified.
The minimum legal age for prostitution in The Netherlands is already set at 18. ®