3 Apr 2015

Tougher child exploitation law wins approval

11:58 am on 3 April 2015

Tougher legislation on sexual exploitation of children will catch not both sex offenders and criminals trying to earn money through online child pornography , a cyber safety group says.

The Objectionable Publications and Indecency Legislation Bill yesterday passed its final reading in Parliament with unanimous support.

It doubles the penalty for possessing, importing or exporting objectionable publications to a maximum of 10 years jail.

Netsafe executive director Martin Cocker said that would help fight criminal enterprises using the internet for financial gain.

"A percentage of criminals using the internet for personal gain have no interest in the protection of children, they are there to make money," he said. "It's a horrible reality, but it exists."

A group fighting sexual exploitation of children, Stop Demand Foundation, said the new law was welcome, but a weakness had been that judges were too lenient on some offenders, sentencing them to home detention rather than prison.

Justice Minister Amy Adams said the legislation sent a clear message that activities that sexually exploit children were abhorrent and would not be tolerated.

"The law changes reflect the ease with which criminals can now access, share and distribute child sexual abuse material, and address the changing ways perpetrators can communicate with children," said Ms Adams.

"The Bill increases the penalties for making, trading or possessing child exploitation material. It will work to protect children who are sadly often re-victimised by the knowledge that images of their abuse could be shared over the internet for years to come."

The legisation includes a new offence of indecent communication with a young person which will apply regardless of whether perpetrators contact victims under the age of 16 online, via text messaging, verbally or by other means.

Provisions in the Objectionable Publications and Indecency Legislation Bill

  • Maximum penalties for possession, import and export of an objectionable publication increased from 5 to 10 years' imprisonment.
  • Maximum penalties for supply, distribution or making an objectionable publication increased from 10 to 14 years' imprisonment.
  • Creates a presumption of imprisonment for those convicted of a child exploitation material offence for a second time or later time.
  • Clarifies that possession of objectionable electronic material includes intentionally viewing material without consciously downloading or saving it.
  • Establishes accident compensation cover for mental injury caused by the existing sexual grooming offence, and the Bill's new offence of indecent communication with a young person.
  • Closes a gap in the law to ensure that New Zealanders who assist foreigners to commit sexual acts against children overseas can be held liable as parties or accessories to the offence under New Zealand law.