Head of the House Human Rights Committee, DISY deputy Stella Kyriakidou said on Thursday they would ask the environment committee to jointly discuss a bill which would allow learner hunting licences for teenagers.
The announcement by the Game and Fauna service last week that it has prepared such a bill under which 14-year-olds could be given learner licences, caused furious reactions. The Animal Party said it would take the issue up with Children’s Rights Commissioner. Children of that age, they said, should not be exposed to something that destroys their innocence.
The move to legalise licences for the teens was deemed necessary, the service said, as it was already taking place illegally. Many fathers, it said, take their underage children with them for hunting, and said they want to regulate this.
Following her committee’s first meeting since the parliamentary elections, Kyriakidou said that they would send a letter to the head of the environment committee Adamos Adamou, asking him when the bill in question is sent to his committee, if it could be discussed jointly, as it was directly linked with children’s rights.
“Great caution is required when we deal with legislation concerning teenagers,” she said.
Kyriakidou said that at the moment she could not express an opinion as she needed first to hear all sides, and look into similar practices in other European Union countries.
The interior ministry said in an announcement that the proposed amendment had nothing to do with lowering the age limit for gun possession, as the legal age limit will still be 18 years of age.
The proposed legislation, it said, “does not have the slightest connection with the possession of weapons, but concerns exclusively the possibility of granting a learner’s hunting licence to persons under 18”.
The aim, the ministry said, is to control the way the youth are learning about hunting as a sport because they currently learn usually from their fathers or other licenced hunters, which is at the moment is an illegal practice.
“Granting learner’s hunting licences to young persons under the supervision of adult hunters, is something that happens in all countries that are advanced in hunting, and aims to consolidate hunting consciousness and assimilation of all the rules for safe use and storage of rifles,” it said.
The proposal provides that all those young would-be hunters who would like to acquire a learner’s licence, would have to attend courses on the ecology of hunting, the rules governing the conduct of hunting, as well as the safe storage, transport and use of guns, it said.
Participants will be given the licence only if they pass the exams that follow the classes. If they succeed, they will be granted the licence, but on the condition that are always be accompanied and supervised by a first-degree relative, holder of a valid hunting licence, and who has not had more than one penalty point.
In cases the licenced hunting escort is not a first degree relative, then the written permission of the minor’s parents of guardians will be required. The gun the minor will be using, will be that of the person who escorts him or her, it said.
The bill will be sent to the House, “which is free to decide any amendments it wishes,” the ministry said.