Jamaica Steps Up to the Plate on Child Porn Issues


Jamaica moved closer to meeting its international obligations in protecting the rights of its children, when the Senate passed the Child Pornography (Prevention) Bill Friday (July 24), making commercial sexual exploitation of children a criminal offence.
The Bill will apply to the production, possession, importation, exportation and distribution of child pornography will attract penalties of up to 20 years imprisonment and fines as high as $500,000.
It was passed within a day’s sitting, unlike the Sexual Offences Bill which took months for the debate to be completed in the Senate.
Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Dorothy Lightbourne, who tabled and piloted the measure through the Senate, noted that Jamaica’s laws have not kept pace with new technologies. She said that this Bill seeks to capture issues which have arisen in a digital environment which did not exist a few years ago.
Senator Lightbourne explained that even though child pornography has existed and was trafficked before the advent of the internet and related technology, such as digital cameras, scanners, and cellular phones, the internet has made the production and world wide distribution of vast amounts of this material simple and inexpensive.
“The borderless nature of the internet, and its perceived anonymity, has globalised this problem in ways that never existed before, and has given these crimes a transnational character,” Senator Lightbourne observed.
Opposition Senator Sandrea Falconer agreed that technology, particularly the internet, has changed the scale and nature of child pornography. She said that the internet has escalated the problem by increasing the amount and type of material available, the efficiency of its distribution and the ease of its accessibility.
She suggested that a special police unit is equipped to deal with internet child pornography.
“I believe that we must invest in a dedicated internet child pornography unit, to detect and prevent child pornography offences,” she said.
She also recommended that a Proceeds of Crime component be added to the Act, so that proceeds from these crimes can be placed in a fund to help the victims.
Government member, Senator Dennis Meadows said that too often support is given, unwittingly or tacitly to child pornography, particularly in the dancehall (street dances) and kiddies carnival, which are often recorded, showing children dancing vulgarly.
He raised concern about what is done with the recordings, and suggested that the Bill address this issue, as well.
Other Government Senators who contributed to the debate were: Hyacinth Bennett, Dr. Ronald Robinson and Marlene Malahoo Forte. Opposition Senators Mark Golding, Basil Waite and K.D. Knight also weighed in.
Jamaica currently has no law which specifically treats with or recognises child pornography as a distinct criminal offence. However, Jamaica has signed and ratified one of several international conventions, including the 1999 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has resulted from international efforts to combat child pornography.
These conventions require member states to take action to criminalise the production, possession, importation, exportation and distribution of child pornography.
The offences dealt with in the Bill include: visual presentations with children engaged in sexual activities; audio recordings or written material that has, as its dominant characteristic, the description, presentation or representation, for a sexual purpose, sexual activity with a child; and any visual representation, audio recording or written material that advocates or counsels sexual activity with a child.
The Bill will be taken to the House of Representatives next week for its approval.

JIS Social