French investigators are increasingly interested in live-streaming rape orders placed by French pedophile criminals, whose number of cases has increased over the past three years.
In three years, the number of files processed by the police concerning orders for child criminal videos has increased from 6 to 27, and the authorities fear that the increase will continue. The concept is sordid: it is a question of ordering online from France a video of a live rape (live-streaming) carried out on a child abroad. The phenomenon has been known for several years, but the months of Covid and confinement seem to have accelerated this criminal practice.
Rape videos on demand
This is the production, at the request of pedophiles, of videos that are made offline or live. The French pedophile can himself give indications of the sexual practices he wishes to watch, even of the violence to which he wishes the child to be subjected. “He therefore becomes the director of a rape video”, describes an investigator to BFMTV.
“The offender places an order for the type of minors and acts he wishes and receives, to date, either filmed content or a connection link which allows him to follow the abuse live and even to be able to order the type of acts committed”, explained at the end of February to the Figaro Laure Beccuau, Paris prosecutor.
Pedocriminals make these sordid orders on the dark web but also on legal sites. The victims live mainly in poor countries: we find them mainly in the Philippines, but also in the countries of Eastern Europe such as Romania, or even in South America.
Note that the price of a rape video is estimated between 30 and 70 euros. This is a fairly large sum in the countries of the victims, but derisory for the French pedocriminals who pay it.
A growing phenomenon
The phenomenon appeared in 2005/2006 and a first file was set up in France in 2011. But for three years, the number of cases has been increasing: 6 files have been processed by the Central Office for the Repression against Violence against Persons ( OCRVP) in 2020, 10 files in 2021 and 27 files since the beginning of 2022.
“It is indeed a phenomenon which in our eyes is on the rise, in particular linked to the Covid crisis which has forced consumers and pedophile criminals to change their habits”, explains on BFMTV Frédéric Courtot, deputy head of the OCRVP. Sex tourism was impossible during this time and “effectively they had to turn to technology”.
Between 250 to 300 French pedophiles engage in this practice according to our information. “We estimate that, by the end of this year, we will have opened a hundred investigations,” says Laure Beccuau.
· How are perpetrators tracked down?
It is difficult to identify the perpetrators of these crimes, because these are live videoconference exchanges, which are not necessarily recorded.
To trace their track, the investigators use a lot of Tracfin reports, this French intelligence service responsible for the fight against tax evasion or the financing of terrorism. They thus identify transfers of often derisory sums (30, 50 or even 70 euros) from France to the Philippines. When they notice a recurrence of these transfers, they investigate and intervene if necessary.
“We can’t identify the victims”
However, “we cannot identify these victims”, deplores on our antenna Nathalie Bucquet, lawyer for Innocence in Danger, an association which defends child victims of violence. “We have investigators who travel to these countries hoping to be able to identify the victims. Once we have identified them, there is the language barrier, the difficulty with our French compensation system…”, explains she.
“Today we are already doing symbolic work first to try to have a name for these children,” says the lawyer.
“Our role is to bring the children back to the heart of these files, so that they are not just numbers in the files, that we manage to pronounce their name, that we know what they have been through, what it implies”, declared in December to FranceInfo Ludivine Piron, from the NGO ECPAT (End child prostitution, child pornography and trafficking of children for sexual purposes). “It is our role to remember that, behind images, children are really sexually assaulted or raped.”
· What sentence is expected?
At present, the Paris prosecutor’s office is seized of 20 investigations into facts of this type, and this could lead, next year, to a first trial of assizes in France. In 2020, a man was sentenced to five years in prison for watching live, via the Internet, sexual assaults on young girls in the Philippines. He was then tried for possession and dissemination of child pornography, but also complicity in sexual assault on minors under the age of 15.
Case law has recently evolved on the subject. From now on, people arrested for having viewed these pornographic videos live can be prosecuted for “complicity in rape”. That is to say, they risk as much as the author of an act of rape: 20 years in prison.
“It’s not the simple possession of child pornography images”, explains to BFMTV Aurélien Brouillet, deputy prosecutor at the Paris prosecutor’s office, assistant to the minors section. It is about “complicity in rape, complicity in human trafficking, with these two complicities which are by instigation. That is to say that we are going to order something and that therefore without his action, in reality, this criminal act cannot take place.”