Parliament to consider tougher penalties for online child sex abuse

By Heather McCracken

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

A new law which would mean tougher penalties for online child sex abuse will be introduced to Parliament this week.

The Objectionable Publications and Indecency Legislation Bill increases maximum penalties for crimes related to making, trading or possessing offensive material, such as images of sexually exploited children.

It also means anyone convicted of a child sexual exploitation offence for a second time will be sent to prison.

Justice Minister Judith Collins said the bill would also create a new offence of indecent communication with a child, which targeted abusers who contacted children through social networking, online chat or texting.

The bill is part of the government's commitment to international efforts to fight online sexual abuse. Last year, New Zealand was one of 48 countries to sign up to the Global Alliance against child sexual abuse online.

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The new measures include:

- maximum penalty for possession, import or export of an objectionable publication increased from five years to 10 years imprisonment

- maximum penalty for distributing or making an objectionable publication increased from 10 years to 14 years imprisonment

- any person convicted of a child sexual exploitation 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 electronic material 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

- APNZ

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