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Bill that strengthens law against sexual abuse and child grooming to be published in 2014

The Bill includes the possible use of electronic monitoring in certain circumstances.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter
Image: laura hutton/Photocall

THE MINISTER FOR Justice Alan Shatter said today that the General Scheme of Sexual Offences Bill will be published in January 2014.

The Bill will see an updated and enhanced legislative regime to protect children and vulnerable adults from sexual abuse and exploitation.

Sex abuse

Shatter said the purpose of the 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”.

He added that under the new provisions, it will be easier for child victims of sexual offences to give evidence.

“The existing provisions for monitoring and supervising convicted sex offenders are being strengthened,” he said, indicating that shortening the period for registration, providing for risk assessment and a statutory framework for warning individuals who may be put at risk by sex offenders, are all to be included in the Bill.

Electronic tagging

The possible use of electronic monitoring in certain circumstances is also included as is the possibility of 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,” said Shatter.

The Government agreed that the Bill will now be sent to the Attorney General for formal drafting.

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

Read: RCNI strongly disagrees with lowering the age of consent>

Read: Dublin Rape Crisis Centre plan to launch support app>

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