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Tougher penalties for child molesters

Those found guilty of sexual offences against children could face up to 25 years in prison under new Justice Ministry proposals currently under review.

The penalties, covering offences such as child sexual abuse, incest and production of child pornography for distribution on the internet, are included in bills drafted by the Ministry of Justice and filed for legislative review. With the completion of the review, the bills will be submitted to the Council of Ministers for approval, and then presented at the parliament.

The Ministry considers tougher penalties for sexual offences against children essential for the following reasons:

– current penalties are considered inadequate as they fail to act as an effective deterrent
– offences against children appear to be on the rise these past few years
– there are different penalties in the Articles of the Criminal Code and in relevant legislation, such as the Prevention and Combating of Sexual Abuse, Sexual Exploitation of Children and Child Pornography Law of 2014.

The proposed legislation will raise penalties for the following offences in the Criminal Code:

– Incest: Up to 20 years in prison and 25 years if the victim is under 18.
– Abduction of girls under 16: 10 years
– Indecent assault on females: 15 years, 20 years if victim under 18.
– Indecent assault on males: 10 years, 20 years if victim under 18.
– Defilement of girls between thirteen and sixteen years of age: age limit is raised to 17, 3-20 years in prison
– ‘Unnatural offence’ involving men 13-17 years old: 3-20 years. NOT a crime if age is similar and there is no violence or coercion involved.
– ‘Indecency’: up to 7 years, 10 years if victim under 13.
– ‘Obscene publications and exhibitions’: if there is involvement of minors, the perpetrator faces a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

A second bill also under review by the Law Office will raise penalties for offences related to child pornography:
-Production for distribution on the internet: 10-20 years in prison
-Provision of information on how to access child pornography: 10-15 years
-Distribution of child pornography on the internet: 10-15 years

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