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Cyprus

Child watchdog tasked with drafting criteria for release of child molesters

The head of a child watchdog has been tasked with drafting strict criteria relating to the release of convicted child molesters from prison after one was released early and returned home unbeknown to his victim, who lives in the same area, the government said on Monday.

The decision came after the President Nicos Anastasiades had to issue a statement apologising following the public outcry, which greeted the news that the state had pardoned a man convicted of sexually abusing a minor who, now an adult, lives in the same neighbourhood.

The case was made public by Anastasia Papadopoulou, the head of the council for the implementation of the national strategy to fight sexual abuse and exploitation of children and child pornography, who met Anastasiades on Thursday to discuss the criteria that should govern presidential pardons given upon their election to office.

According to a written statement issued by deputy government spokeswoman, Klelia Vasiliou, the president asked Papadopoulou to draft comprehensive proposals regarding the criteria that should be put in place to preclude certain categories of offenders from receiving the general pardon but also a comprehensive policy to support the victims of sexually-related crimes, irrespective of age.

The offender in question was released last Sunday, with the victim and her family finding out when they heard the celebrations for his return to the neighbourhood.

In Wednesday’s statement, the president said the man was released under the established practice of the president, with the agreement of the attorney-general, suspending one-quarter of an inmate’s sentence, “irrespective of the offences committed, bar certain exceptions”.

The man had been sentenced to three years in jail and was meant to be released on March 29, 2019.

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