A children’s charity on Wednesday welcomed the recent supreme court decision to uphold appeals filed by the attorney-general and raise the sentences given by criminal courts on two men found guilty of possessing child pornography.
“We welcome the decision by the supreme court to raise the sentences,” said Andria Neocleous, the Hope For Children’s CRC Policy Centre’s director of humanitarian division.
“Stricter penalties can act as a deterrent but it is not the only factor that can prevent this.”
On Monday the supreme court raised the prison sentence of a 52-year-old man from Nicosia from 2.5 years to five years, and last month, it raised the sentence of a man living in Limassol, from four to seven years. Both men were found guilty of child pornography possession, while the latter was also found guilty of distributing pornographic material.
Attorney-General Costas Clerides had appealed the two original sentences.
The 52-year-old, Adonis Nicolaou, was found guilty of three charges concerning the possession of 157 files containing pornographic content involving children under the age of 13, including one and two-year-olds, and the possession of 561 files concerning children over 13. He was also found guilty of sending photos of the underage daughter of friends of his family to another person abroad asking him to edit them so as to portray the girl performing sexual acts. The girl was reportedly under the age of 13.
The Limassol man, Jason Niland, was found guilty of 31 charges, after admitting to the offences. His charges concerned the possession and distribution of child pornographic material, in total 2,102 files, 28 of these involving children under 13.
In both cases, the supreme court upheld Clerides’ appeal, maintaining that the initial sentences, taking into consideration the severity of the offences were inadequate and not a deterrent.
Neocleous said that lenient sentences send out the message that the severity of these offences is not taken seriously.
Whilst she welcomed the stricter penalties she warned that other factors must come into play.
Neocleous stressed the importance of zero tolerance by the justice system and society in general in such cases. It is very important for members of the public to report such cases, she said.
She added that the recent launch of the Children’s House in Nicosia, makes the encounter of sexually abused children with the authorities much easier as it encourages more families to come forward.
The Children’s House, operated by Hope for Children in cooperation with other governmental services, offers a holistic range of psychological, social and rehabilitation support services to sexually abused and exploited children. It is one of just three such facilities in Europe.