The Deputy will recall that I recently outlined the position on the ratification of these two important Council of Europe conventions when he raised the matter on 16 January. At that time, I updated the House on the significant progress made in the ratification process within the term of this administration, particularly through the introduction of legislation to give effect to the key criminal law provisions in both treaties.
On the cybercrime convention, otherwise known as the Budapest convention, the majority of the provisions in the convention are already provided for in Irish law. The most significant step towards ratification of the convention was the enactment in 2017 of the first Bill in this jurisdiction specifically dedicated to dealing with cybercrime. The Criminal Justice (Offences Relating to Information Systems) Act 2017 gave effect to an EU directive on attacks against information systems, the main provisions of which reflect the key provisions in the convention.
This recent legislation, therefore, also gives effect to provisions in the convention relating to offences against information systems and their data, as well as search and seizure powers in respect of such data. An Garda Síochána, the organisation with primary responsibility for dealing with cybercrime, has strongly welcomed this landmark legislation as a comprehensive weapon to tackle criminality against computer systems, as well as interference with such systems or their data.
Turning to the convention on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, also known as the Lanzarote convention, the work required for ratification is at an advanced stage. I understand from our previous debate on this matter that the Deputy’s primary concern is with the elements of the convention which deal with the criminalisation of online abuse and exploitation of children. Ireland’s laws are fully in line with the convention in this regard. This was largely achieved by the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017, which is ground-breaking legislation. On other elements of the convention, my Department has carried out a detailed review of compliance, in consultation with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and other relevant stakeholders, such as the Garda Síochána and the HSE.