Thursday, 27th November 2014
- Protection of children, vulnerable and trafficked persons will be enhanced by Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2014.
- General Scheme of Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2014 by Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, TD.
The Bill proposed by the Minister for Justice and Equality, sets out a series of robust measures that will enhance the protection from sexual exploitation of children and vulnerable people. Advances in technology have provided new online platforms that are being misused for predatory sexual activity targeting children. Under the Bill it will be an offence to use technology to groom or exploit a child; this will be punishable by up to 14 years in prison. This will help to further protect children when they are online.
That sex offenders will be prohibited from working with children and vulnerable persons is another very important child protection measure in the Bill. When someone is a known sex offender there should be no ambiguity, they should be prohibited from working with children, the Minister is ensuring that this will be the case.
It is also proposed to create a specific offence of purchasing sexual services in the context of prostitution. Existing legislation provides that solicitation of prostitution, organising it and living off earnings from prostitution are all criminal offences. However the Minister has proposed to go even further and make the actual purchasing of sexual services an offence. This will make it easier to prosecute those who buy sex but it will also reinforce upon those who purchase sex that Irish society disapproves of their actions.
The proposed Bill also provides extra protection for victims of human trafficking. These victims can be exploited by forced involvement prostitution. As a society we must act to protect and help these victims. By making prostitution involving a trafficked person an explicit offence we are enhancing the measures in place to protect those exploited in this way.
The Bill proposed by the Minister increases the protections afforded to those who are the victims of sexual offences. As this Bill progresses through the Oireacthas I hope that all interested groups will engage and comment on the proposals so that we can ensure the final piece of legislation will achieve our goal of enhancing the protection of children, vulnerable and trafficked persons.