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MPs push to toughen up legislation on child sex offenders

Irini Charalambides (left) discussion of the bill should have taken place earlier

MPs on Wednesday discussed two bills extending the powers of the authority supervising people convicted for committing sexual offences against minors and setting up a juvenile court.

Diko MP Christiana Erotokritou said the bill extending the powers of the supervisory authority sought to protect victims for the rest of their life and her party would try to have it approved as soon as possible.

The bill would allow the authority to secure a restraining order to protect the victim but also ban the offender from being close to a place frequented by minors or working with minors after his release.

Offenders will also be mandated to attend therapy.

Akel MP Irini Charalambides said discussion of the bill should have taken place earlier pointing out a case, which caused a public outcry in 2018, when a convicted child molester was granted early release in a wholesale presidential pardon. The man lived in the same street as his victim, an adult at the time of his release, who had not even been notified.

Because of the deficiencies of the current legislation, Charalambides said, the authorities had proposed moving the victim and her family from the area.

The offender was later fined €700 for engaging in an indecent act directed at parents of the victim.

The man had reportedly raised the middle finger before laughing and mocking them because he was released early.

Charalambides said the existing law also had no provisions for monitoring offenders convicted abroad.

The bill provides for offenders coming from abroad to be monitored while Cypriot authorities would be obliged to inform their foreign counterparts when an offender from Cyprus was travelling to their country.

Charalambides said she will be recommending including electronic monitoring in the bill.

Disy MP Demetris Demetriou highlighted the importance of creating a juvenile court, which also regulates issues like detention venues and reform, so as to avoid jailing minors.

Child commissioner Leda Koursoumba welcomed the bill since, as she said, it created the conditions for the establishment of a child-friendly criminal justice system.

Such a system, she said sought to minimise a child’s contact with the criminal justice system and is based on policies and programmes that operate preemptively in a bid to effectively tackle the expression of antisocial behavior.

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