04/01/2019

No Safe Haven In Ireland For Child Abusers - Dr Zappone

Those who seek to harm or abuse children will find no safe haven in Ireland, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, has warned.

The Minister issued the warning as Ireland now meets all legal requirements of an international protocol to end the sale of children and should quickly move to ratification.

Minister Zappone believes the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol (the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is more than symbolic – it also shows that our laws, supports and protections meet the highest standards.

Announcing her decision to recommend ratification to Government Minister Zappone added: "Protecting, safeguarding and supporting children is the mission of my Department. It is why it was established. Ratification of the Optional Protocol is the culmination of years of preparation. We have enacted legislation, namely The Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998, the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 and the Sexual Offences Act (2017), which shows that ratification is backed by real action to protect children and jail those who wish to harm them.

"Each of these laws bring us into line with the protocol and its requirements.

"The Protocol provides definitions for the offences of 'sale of children', 'child prostitution' and 'child pornography'.

"It also creates obligations on governments to criminalize and punish the activities related to these offences. It requires punishment not only for those offering or delivering children for the purposes of sexual exploitation, transfer of organs or children for profit or forced labour, but also for anyone accepting the child for these activities.

"The Protocol also protects the rights and interests of child victims. Governments must provide legal and other support services to child victims. This obligation includes considering the best interests of the child in any interactions with the criminal justice system. Children must also be supported with necessary medical, psychological, logistical and financial support to aid their rehabilitation and reintegration.

"In the new year we will commence the new 'One House' pilot model in Galway – which ensures children who have been sexually abused do not have to relive the trauma over and over again by placing all services under one roof.

"Again showing that our commitment to meeting the protocol is absolute and supported by real actions.

"Across the globe human traffickers, people smugglers and pimps have put children in the frontline – Ireland now meets the best international standards to combat this and I will be recommending to the Attorney General and the Government that Ratification takes place in the New Year."

(MH/CM)

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