Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Questions (566)

Jennifer Whitmore


566. Deputy Jennifer Whitmore asked the Minister for Justice the reason Ireland has not signed the Lanzarote Convention to date; when Ireland will sign the convention; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23561/20]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

At the outset it is important to note that Ireland’s laws are already in line with the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (commonly referred to as the Lanzarote Convention).

This was largely achieved by the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017. The 2017 Act brought in a new offence of accessing child pornography online and criminalised grooming behaviour, such as communicating with a child online for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Even prior to this Act, our legislation on child pornography included images of a person generated or modified by computer-graphics.

My Department has now completed a detailed review of compliance with the Convention. This review was carried out in consultation with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and other relevant stakeholders, such as the Garda Síochána and the Health Service Executive, who have provided detailed information regarding the child protection, prevention and victim support aspects of the Convention, in order to establish Ireland's compliance with its operational elements.

Following completion of this review and on foot of the advice of the Attorney General, I am pleased to confirm that Ireland is in a position to proceed toward ratification. I will take the necessary steps, in co-operation with my colleague the Minister for Foreign Affairs, to secure the approval of Government and subsequently Dáil Éireann as soon as practically possible.

The Deputy may be interested to know that an update to this effect on Ireland's position regarding ratification was given to the virtual meeting of the Council of Europe Lanzarote Committee held on 15-17 June.