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Government Moves In On Child Sex Offenders


PRESS RELEASE

Government Moves In On Child Sex Offenders

Justice Minister Judith Collins today announced Government plans to increase maximum penalties for child pornography offences and to future-proof laws against advances in technology.

The new measures include:

• increasing the maximum penalty for possession, import or export of an objectionable publication from 5 years to 10 years imprisonment

• increasing the maximum penalty for distributing or making an objectionable publication from 10 years to 14 years imprisonment

• creating a presumption of imprisonment for repeat offenders - any person convicted of a child pornography offence for a second time will be sentenced to a term of imprisonment making it clear in the Classification Act that possession of objectionable material includes intentionally viewing material over the internet without consciously downloading or saving it

• creating a new offence of indecent communication with a child (anyone under the age of 16) which includes texting, online and verbal communication.

ECPAT Child ALERT, a child protection agency endorses this move. “The strengthening of sentencing for people who exploit children via the Internet will send a strong signal to those who access these images and in so doing increase the demand for more victims. This should serve as a deterrent. The volume of illegal child sex abuse images available is staggering but what is really concerning is the demand by New Zealanders to access these. The Digital Child Exploitation Filter System operated by the Department of Internal Affairs identifies a constant and concerning daily demand for child sex abuse images on the Internet.”

“Child pornography is a record of terrible abuse suffered by children. We’re making changes to ensure sentences reflect the seriousness of the crime, and we’re sending a strong message that the exploitation and abuse of children will not be tolerated,” Ms Collins says.

However ECPAT Child ALERT also warns that in itself the harsher penalties will not solve the problem. “We know from experience that law enforcement is absolutely essential but it does not basically change people’s behaviour. Behaviour is driven from attitudes and there also needs to be a concerted effort to create public awareness and education around this aspect of child sex exploitation. The demand is mainly from men and there is a need to address this and do everything possible to prevent the exploitation occurring as well as dealing strongly with those that do offend. Unless this is done the demand for child victims to satisfy this black market will continue.”

Ms Collins says offenders can access objectionable material in ways and at speeds unimagined only a decade ago.

“The internet allows objectionable material to be easily viewed and shared. New technology enables transmitting, retrieving and storing an almost infinite quantity of data at high speed and low cost – offenders can possess collections of over 100,000 images of sexually exploited children.

ECPAT Child ALERT is a registered charitable trust working to prevent the sexual exploitation of children

ENDS

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