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Government plans big jump in child porn penalties

Government plans big jump in child porn penalties

Justice Minister Phil Goff today signalled the government's intention to significantly increase penalties for child pornography offences.

Mr Goff will introduce a Bill later this year increasing the maximum penalties to 10 years' jail for producing and trading in child pornography, and two years' jail for possessing child pornography.

"The current maximum penalties, which are one year's jail for producing, copying or trading child pornography, and a $2000 fine for possessing child pornography, are clearly inadequate and fail to reflect the fact that the production of child pornography involves the actual abuse of children," Mr Goff said.

"Traders and possessors of child pornography have an indirect responsibility for the abuse of children by encouraging further criminal acts through creating a market for the images.

"The rapid technological advances which now enable sexual images of children to be traded anonymously and globally at minimal cost could not have been contemplated when the current penalties were established 10 years ago.

"That change is graphically illustrated by data from Manchester, England, which shows that in 1995 police seized 12 child pornographic images, and all of them were in the form of photographs or videos. Just four years later, 41,000 child porn images were seized and all bar three were on computers, with almost all the images having been sourced from the internet.

"Similar increases have been observed in New Zealand and it is not uncommon for New Zealanders who trade in child pornography over the internet to have thousands of images of child abuse in their possession.

"The internet has removed risks that might have deterred some people from trying to access child pornography, such as the chance of being identified when purchasing it from certain sex shops."

Mr Goff said the proposed increases would bring New Zealand’s penalties for supply of, and trading in, child pornography offences into line with those of the United Kingdom and Canada, which both had maximum sentences of 10 years' jail for producing or trading in child pornography.

Cabinet has now endorsed the proposal to heavily increase penalties. The penalties for other objectionable publications, which include publications depicting acts of torture and sexual violence, will also be increased in line with these changes.

Mr Goff said a paper would go to Cabinet by July detailing the increase in penalties; the legislative changes needed to ratify the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, and changes made in response to the Government Administration Committee report on the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act.

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