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Tougher Child Pornography Laws - Where Are They?

Media release 31 October 2003


Two community groups combating child pornography say that the promised toughening up of existing weak child pornography laws cannot come soon enough. Their concerns follow today’s sentencing of former Canterbury principal David Young. Young received a “paltry” fine, for offending that spanned some 12-18 months.

Spokesperson for ECPAT and Stop Demand, Denise Ritchie, said “The Government has been extremely slow to act, on promised toughening up of our current weak child pornography laws. Select Committee submissions were first heard in late 2000. What are the excuses for a three-year delay? The Government has moved smartly to amend a host of other legislation over past months. The rights of children, to be protected from online offenders, seems to be way down on the list of priorities.”

“Those who seek out images of children being sexually violated, for their own sexual gratification, are in effect re-abusing those children. In addition, they perpetuate an ongoing market for further online sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children. The Government must send a strong message that such offenders, when caught, can expect to be severely punished,” says Ritchie. “We have to crack down on those who create the demand for such images, if we ever hope to stop the online sexual violation of children.”

The Minister of Justice announced, on 14 October, that law changes would be introduced by Christmas. However, even if the Government honours its latest promise within the next seven weeks, it is unclear when such law changes are likely to take effect.

Despite the Court’s restrictions under current law (namely, to impose only a fine to those convicted of “possessing” images of children being sexually violated) the fine imposed today can only be described as “paltry”, says Ritchie.

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