Cyprus Mail

House to vote on child sex abuse bill next week

AKEL MP Irini Charalambidou

By Staff Reporter

THE bill on child sex abuse, exploitation and child pornography will be presented to parliament for a vote next Thursday, June 19.

The House Law Committee completed a second round of discussion on the bill yesterday and the final draft will be reviewed and discussed tomorrow.

The House plenum decided on May 29 to postpone for two weeks a final debate and vote on a legislative proposal amending the law.

The bill, initially drafted by opposition AKEL, was due to be put to the vote today, but after an hour’s heated debate the majority of MPs opted for a delay. In tandem with AKEL’s proposal, the government is drafting harmonising legislation on the same subject.

The bill 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 signatory states, but has yet to ratify it, prompting an EU caution last December urging Cyprus to do so.

AKEL MP Irini Charalambidou is in a hurry to see her party’s bill passed because discussion on the harmonising legislation would take up more time.

She stressed the urgency of the matter, given that four paedophiles are due to be released from prison by the end of the year.

Ruling DISY counters that the government’s harmonising bill is a more comprehensive piece of legislation that would render AKEL’s proposal obsolete.

House Law Committee chairman, DISY MP Soteris Sampson, said yesterday that the committee will monitor the new law and propose the necessary amendments which will be added after the summer break.

In regards to the treatment of minors, perpetrators and their penalties, he said that instructions were given by the committee to all involved parties to discuss the matter (for offences provided by the current law) and present their common decision to the committee until September, when the committee will propose a bill amendment.

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