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Ireland joining international stand against sale of children, child pornography 
and child prostitution
Minister Zappone says all legal requirements now in place

 

Wednesday 2nd January 2019

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone, says Ireland now meets all legal requirements of an international protocol to end the sale of children and should quickly move to ratification.
The Minister is recommending that after almost two decades of preparations, including the passing of several laws, it is time for Ireland to send a message out loud and clear that those who wish to harm or abuse children will find no safe haven here.

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.”

ENDS/

NOTE TO EDITORS

The second optional Protocol is available at:  https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/opsccrc.aspx 

Background

Ireland signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) on 30th September 1990 and ratified it on 28th September 1992.   DCYA has a co-ordinating responsibility for the implementation of the UNCRC and its related protocols.  Ireland has signed three Optional Protocols to the UNCRC:
· Ireland signed the First Optional Protocol (relating to children in armed conflict) on 7th September 2000 and ratified it on 18 November 2002;
· Ireland signed the Second Optional Protocol (the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography) on 7th September 2000 and has not ratified to-date;
· Ireland signed and ratified the Third Optional Protocol (communications procedure) on 24th September 2014.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, in its Concluding Observations on Ireland’s report to it under the Convention in 2006 and again in 2016, recommended the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol.  The Committee on the Rights of the Child is a body of independent experts, provided for under Article 43 of the CRC, which monitors the implementation of the Convention and the Optional Protocols.  It reports to the UN General Assembly through the Economic and Social Council (under Article 44 of the Convention).

While Ireland signed the Second Optional Protocol on the 7 September 2000, ratification of the Protocol has been pending to ensure that all arrangements are in place to fully comply with the related obligations of the convention.

The Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998 and, the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008, were significant legislative measures regarding compliance with the requirements of the Second Optional Protocol. The final step in the ratification of the Protocol was to ensure the enactment of the Sexual Offence Act (2017) by the Department of Justice and Equality.The Act contains a wide range of provisions that will enhance the protection of children and vulnerable persons from sexual abuse and exploitation. The Bill, which was signed into law on 22 February 2017, enhances and updates laws which aim to combat the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.  

The Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017, which was also enacted late last year, provides for information being provided by An Garda Síochána to victims of relevant crimes in relation to compensation.  Now that these two pieces of legislation have been enacted, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 and the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017, the last obstacles have been removed and DCYA is in a position to proceed with its commitment to ratify the Protocol.

The Convention also calls for supporting the social reintegration and physical/psychological recovery of victims. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is developing a bespoke model, which has the working title of ‘One House’ that will bring together the protection, health, therapeutic and policing services.Ireland can now prepare for the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol. The Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) has been reviewing all legislative and operational measures while liaising with the Department of Justice and Equality and relevant Agencies.

The DCYA has prepared a document for the attention of the Attorney General to demonstrate that Ireland is in compliance with the provision of the Convention and there is no need for further measures to be put in place.  This is scheduled to be submitted early in 2019 and once approved by the AG, the Minister can seek a Government decision on the ratification of the Convention. The approved Memorandum will be furnished to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFA) with a view to initiating the ratification process next year.