The Law Society of Ireland has welcomed news that the government is to ratify the Lanzarote Convention.
The Lanzarote Convention, also known as the Council of Europe Convention on Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, came into force in 2010 and requires criminalisation of all kinds of sexual offences against children. It has a broad focus on abuse and exploitation, dealing not only with the issue of grooming or soliciting children to engage in sexual behaviour, but also behaviour that could facilitate the production of pornographic material.
President of the Law Society of Ireland, Michele O’Boyle, said, “Following the announcement by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, the Law Society welcomes the move to ratify the Lanzarote Convention.”
“Safeguarding children from violence, particularly sexual violence, must be a priority for society,” said Ms O’Boyle. “To date, all 47 member states of the Council of Europe have signed the Convention, but Ireland is the only country not to have ratified it.”
“This issue has been highlighted to government frequently over the last number of years. In 2014, Dr Geoffrey Shannon, a member of the Law Society’s Family and Child Law Committee called for the ratification of the Convention without reservation.”
“States who have ratified the Convention are required to introduce a variety of preventative measures, such as vetting and information sharing, consciousness raising and participation measures, intervention programmes for offenders, child-friendly investigation procedures and international co-operation measures,” explained Ms O’Boyle.
“Crucially however, Articles 18 to 24 of the Convention provides for a number of criminal law offences which states are obliged to enact concerning sexual abuse of children, child prostitution, child pornography and corruption of children,” she said.
Engaging and educating
“There are also specific clauses in the Convention relating to children’s use of information and communication technology (ICT) and the need to engage with the ICT sector. Article 6 of the Convention highlights the importance of educating children as a strategy for helping to prevent sexual exploitation and abuse.”
“Further, Article 9 states that the private sector, and the ICT sector in particular, should be encouraged to participate in the implementation of policies designed to prevent exploitation and to introduce internal norms through self-regulation or co-regulation,” she said.
“The introduction of the Lanzarote Convention is a welcome necessary step forward in protecting some of our most vulnerable members of society from sexual offences and will complement the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017.”
“I thank the Minister for prioritising this important issue and I trust the government will ensure the Convention’s recommendations are introduced without delay,” she said.