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Impact Of Law Changes Depends On Judiciary

Impact Of Law Changes Depends On Judiciary

After years of lobbying the Government for law changes, anti-child porn group ECPAT NZ, was generous in its praise for the Government’s indication to “significantly” increase penalties for child pornography.

ECPAT NZ spokesperson, Denise Ritchie, said “We believe the Minister of Justice Phil Goff, in particular, has shown an increasingly strong commitment to ensure the dignity and rights of children are upheld and that children are protected from commercial sexual exploitation in all its forms.”

Denise Ritchie cautions “However, the real impact of the proposed law changes will depend on how seriously the Courts view this crime”.

ECPAT has to date criticised a raft of “community work” sentences handed down by the Courts when prison could have been an option imposed on Kiwis convicted of trading in images, including those of young children being raped by adults.

Denise Ritchie, herself a barrister, highlights the disparity with which Judges appear to view these crimes.

“Some Judges have grasped the fact that child pornography is about sexual crimes against children. Other Judges appear to treat it as a purely censorship issue. One must appreciate that to create these images, children are being sexually violated and filmed, expressly to put online for the sexual gratification of other Internet users globally. Trading this material adds to a demand and market for such images, and consequently, to meet the demand, more children are violated to create further images. What is particularly insidious is that what excited a trader or possessor yesterday is unlikely to tomorrow. This creates a demand for more extreme images. If we are serious about combating child pornography, we must crack down heavily on ‘demand’.”

ECPAT believes that the sentences proposed more adequately reflect the gravity of the offending and will hopefully act as a deterrent to some.

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