11 Sep 2006

Tough penalties in Palau for sex offenders

10:36 am on 11 September 2006

Tough new penalties for rape and sodomy are being introduced in Palau in a bid to deter sex criminals.

Those convicted of either crime involving a victim under 18 years old face a minimum jail term of 15 years and a maximum of 30 years under a bill approved by congress.

The same applies to anyone committing rape within a marriage.

The vice president, Elias Camsek Chin, who is also the Justice Minister, insists that sex crimes are not on the rise in the country.

But he says the new legislation is being brought in partly to protect Palau's youth from paedophiles.

"There is no increase in rape in Palau but we just wanted to make sure we have a penalty in place for those people contemplating doing that. And also we have a lot of people from outside and we wanted to make sure that we protect our people also."

Mr Chin says the citizens have welcomed the new laws.