Government bill calls for tougher sentences for sexual abuse of children
Amendment would also list fines for sexual crimes in criminal records extract to be presented to employer
Punishments for sexual crimes against children and defenceless adults will toughen considerably if the bills approved by the government on Thursday will also be passed by Parliament.
The suggested changes to the present legislation would tighten the penalties in cases of sexual abuse of children and would make seduction of children into sexual activities an act punishable by law.
For example, making arrangements on line to meet a minor would be considered a crime if the purpose of the meeting was an attempt to engage the child in a sexual activity or to produce child pornography.
The purpose of the amendment is to include Finland among the countries that recognise the Council of Europe’s Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation that came into force on 1st July 2010.
According to the Minister of JusticeTuija Brax (Green league) the amendment also includes changes that are not required by the convention, such as the toughening of the punishment scales.
The government bill is based on proposal by a Ministry of Justice working group that was completed in May.
The working group suggested that even voluntary workers working with children should be required to show a criminal records extract. Currently this obligation only applies to those seeking paid employment with children.
However, this item was left out of the final law proposal. In Brax’s view the change would be so extensive that it would require closer scrutiny.
According to the proposed amendment, however, fines issued for sexual crimes or possession of child pornography would be included in a person’s criminal record; currently only prison sentences are listed in the register.
The MPs of the government parties agreed on Wednesday that a supplementary budget of EUR 280,000 should be allocated for the widening of the register next year.
Until now it has been possible for a worker to have a clean criminal record even after having been fined for example for distribution of child pornography.
“Such cases have come to our attention”, Brax says.
In the proposed new law, the coercion of a defenceless adult into sexual intercourse or sexual act would also always be considered a rape. Until now calling an act “rape” in such a case has been possible if the perpetrator to caused the victim to be impaired with alcohol or drugs.
In Brax’s view, apart from children and defenceless adults, the amendment will also protect for example disabled people. The present legislation has not made it possible to convict for rape a perpetrator that has taken advantage of the victim’s disability.
According to Brax, the legislation dealing with sexual crimes against adults may soon undergo even larger changes. A report by the National Research Institute of Legal Policy into the punishment practices of such crimes is expected to be completed at the beginning of the coming year.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Risikko: protecting children more important than confidentiality in pastoral care (17.5.2010)
Prosecution Service wants to examine allegations of paedophilia in Laestadian religious community (7.5.2010)
Investigation in Finnish Lutheran Church reveals least 100 cases of suspected sexual abuse (3.5.2010)
Finnish man sentenced to 11 years in prison for sexual abuse of children (5.12.2005)
Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse