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The National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence.

An Oifig Náisiúnta um Fhoréigean Baile, Gnéasach agus Inscnebhunaithe a Chosc

  1. General Scheme of Sexual Offences Bill to be published in January

General Scheme of Sexual Offences Bill to be published in January

The Government considered the General Scheme of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Bill 2013 on 17 December 2013. This substantial Bill will provide for an updated and enhanced legislative regime to protect children and vulnerable adults from sexual abuse and exploitation. The Government agreed that the Bill will now be sent to the Attorney General for formal drafting.

The Scheme, which has over 70 sections, will give effect to:
the Directive 2011/93/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children and child pornography,
the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote Convention),
the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography,
certain recommendations of the Joint Committee on Child Protection and the Joint Committee on the Constitutional Amendment on Children,
the review and public consultation on updating the law on the monitoring of sex offenders under the Sex Offenders Act 2001.

Speaking today Minister Shatter said, "Substantial work has been undertaken to bring this Bill to fruition. The purpose of this Bill is to improve the protection of children from sexual abuse and sexual exploitation by creating new offences and strengthening existing law against sexual abuse, defilement and the grooming of children for sexual exploitation over the internet. New provisions are also being introduced to make it easier for child victims of sexual offences to give evidence."

"The existing provisions for monitoring and supervising convicted sex offenders are being strengthened including shortening the period for registration, providing for risk assessment, a statutory framework for warning individuals who may be put at risk by sex offenders, the possible use of electronic monitoring in certain circumstances, court orders to prevent harassment of victims by convicted sex offenders.
"The Bill will also provide for a change in the law on incest so that men and women who are found guilty of abusing their children are treated equally before the law. The question of disclosure of third party counselling therapy records in sexual abuse trials is also addressed."

Issues relating to the age of consent will be dealt with by Cabinet, following consultation with the Fine Gael and Labour parliamentary parties. The General Scheme of the Bill will be published by the end of January after the Government has finalised its consideration of all the issues involved.