By Constantinos Psillides
DEPUTIES have drawn battle lines on the issue of an amendment to the law on the sexual abuse of minors.
Opposition AKEL wants the amendment discussed a the plenum today but ruling DISY says it’s a waste of time since the government is already drafting harmonising legislation that will leave the amendment obsolete.
AKEL MP Irini Charalambiou, is in a hurry to see the amendment passed because discussion on the harmonising legislation would just take up more time.
And given that four paedophiles are due to be released from prison by the end of the year, she believes the matter is urgent.
Charalambidou had a heated exchange yesterday with DISY’s Rikkos Mappourides behind closed doors at the House Legal Affairs Committee.
Mappourides believes proper discussion needs to take place on the issue rather than a reaction to populist knee-jerk reactions.
He accused Charalambidou of “political narcissism”.
“Mr Mappourides should look for the narcissists in his own party. They were the one’s that delayed this crucial amendment. I refer Mr Mappourides to the minutes of the meetings we had on this amendment,” Charalambidou responded.
She said DISY was the only party on the Committee which did not give an opinion on the amendment. “Now the government has woken up from its slumber, on an issue such as crucial as this. All my fellow MPs, besides Mr Mappourides believe that this delay is unacceptable,” noted Charalambisou, returning the criticism by accusing DISY of “political amoralism”.
In a statement issued later in the day, DISY explained that there was no need for an amendment since the government already drafted the harmonising bill on the sexual abuse of minors.
The legislation proposed by the government will lead to the ratification of the Lanzarote Convention, the Council of Europe’s convention which requires the criminalisation of all kinds of sexual offences against children.
Cyprus signed the convention in 2007, joining 46 other member states, but it has yet to ratify it, prompting an EU directive last December urging Cyprus to do so.
DISY criticised AKEL on rushing to put the amendment to vote, saying that delicate issues like this should not be open to exploitation.
“It is with great sorrow that we watched today’s event unfold. We call upon all interested partied to work together and try and come up with a solution,” said the party in a statement.
Charalambidou argued that there was no time to go through a new round of discussions at the House.
“The government’s harmonising bill is to be sent to the House tomorrow. We don’t know which Committee will deal with it and we don’t know how long it will take to have it ready to be put into a plenum vote. Time is of the essence here, since four paedophiles are set to be released in 2014,” she said.
The House Legal Affairs Committee discussed earlier this month the absence of a legal frame allowing for the monitoring of sexual deviants, after they are released from prison. The AKEL amendment suggest, among other things, establishing a committee to monitor the actions of these individuals.
The government’s proposed bill has the same provision.
In his statement, Mappourides said the harmonising legislation would render all previous legislation useless.
MPs from other parliament parties urged the two major parties to work together on this issue so as to find a solution as soon as possible.