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Courts too lenient with sex offenders - children's-rights body

Published:Wednesday | April 21, 2010 | 12:00 AM

The judiciary has been accused by a children's-rights advocacy of being lenient to child sex offenders. The group has also chastised the Government for dragging its feet on legislation which could protect the vulnerable.

The Hear The Children's Cry Committee has called for marked improvement in the way various government agencies work to safeguard children from sexual offences.

The organisation's founder and executive director, Betty Ann Blaine, demanded that foolproof systems be established to enforce restraining orders against alleged sex offenders.

Hear the Children's Cry has also lobbied for the implementation of mandatory DNA testing in sexual offence cases against a minor. The executive director believes this might have helped to bring about convictions in the cases of a number of alleged child molesters.

Hear The Children's Cry said even where improved and expanded legislation has already been drafted and passed in both Houses of Parliament - in the case of the new Sexual Offences Act - foot-dragging by the authorities continues to delay finalisation of critical aspects.

"The Registry of Sexual Offenders is among the improvements falling under this act," Blaine said, "so that is also being held up in the process.

"Our concern," she stressed, "is that the system appears to be lenient towards sexual offenders against minors - and this is not a recent thing. ... We are not getting timely action at the executive level, where they are dragging their feet with legislation. And the courts seem to be lenient towards alleged child sexual offenders."