By Stefanos Evripidou
AKEL MP Irini Charalambidou has tabled a legal proposal introducing life sentences for those found guilty of paedophilia, while also allowing for the supervision of convicts after their release.
Charalambidou first raised the issue of modernising the law on paedophilia in 2012 in parliament.
After the state failed to table its own proposals in the intervening period, Charalambidou tabled a draft bill on paedophilia at the House Legal Affairs Committee on Thursday. Discussion on the matter will begin on March 26.
The AKEL deputy told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that she was concerned about the absence of any laws on the supervision of convicted paedophiles.
“Who monitors them? Where do they live? Today, we have a situation where a person charged with paedophilia is employed at a place where minors frequent. It’s unacceptable,” she said.
The MP also wants to introduce psychological profiling of those convicted of sexual offences against minors to see if the problem is systematic. If so, then they should receive treatment in jail, she said.
Another aspect of the draft bill is defining the perpetrator’s relationship with the victim as an aggravating circumstance.
Charalambidou said she will also try to push through a system of electronic tagging in certain circumstances, expressing doubts, however, as to whether the state has the resources or infrastructure to implement such an option.
The draft bill relates to the criminalisation of certain sexual offences against minors and the supervision of sex offenders.
Under the draft bill, an adult who sexually assaults a minor is guilty of committing a crime punishable with life imprisonment. If the victim is between 14 and 17, the crime is punishable with 14 years imprisonment.
An adult, who with gestures, proposals, a portrayal or presentation of acts involving sex offends the decency of a minor, is guilty of a misdemeanour.
An adult who is sexually violent with a minor is guilty of a felony punishable by life if the adult is: familiar to the minor; stays with the minor or has friendly relations with people familiar to the minor; an educator, gymnast or other person giving lessons to the minor; a cleric in a spiritual relationship with the minor; a psychologist, doctor, nurse or specialist scientist offering services to the minor; guilty of abusing the mental or physical disability of the minor; in a relationship of power with the minor.
The draft legislation also provides that the court go beyond imposing a prison sentence to request that the convicted person undergoes a psychological examination. If found by a psychiatrist to be a paedophile, the court can demand that they be monitored and receive treatment from a psychiatrist while serving their sentence.
Furthermore, the court may impose terms and restrictions on a person diagnosed by a psychiatrist as being a paedophile, who served their sentence and is set free.
The court’s options include demanding that the person: a) undergoes treatment, or continues treatment with a psychiatrist or psychologist, and presents proof of such treatment; b) is obliged to inform police and local authorities of their place of residence, and any change of address; c) is forced to change place of residence if their original abode before conviction is near a school, park or other place where minors frequent; d) is subject to electronic tagging; and, e) is forbidden to engage in employment at a place where minors frequent.
For the purposes of the draft bill, paedophilia is defined as “a psychiatric disorder of the personality and behaviour of an adult person who exhibits a sexual preference for minors, consisting of recurrent and intense sexual urges and fantasies and whose psychiatric disorder is confirmed by a psychiatrist”.