Family members could face a jail term under newly proposed legislation if they fail to report serious offences against children to the Gardai. The Criminal Justice (withholding of information on Offences against Children and Vulnerable Persons) Bill includes most sexual offences along with assault, abduction, manslaughter and murder.
Certain defences will be made available to parents and professionals in a situation where the victim asks that information is not passed onto the Gardai. The aim of the legislation is to strengthen the Child Protection laws in the country and is a very welcome development. The most interesting aspect of the legislation is the possibility of finding any person guilty of an offence if they withhold information relating to sexual or serious offences of a criminal nature against children. If the legislation is enacted it will have far reaching implications of a positive nature for child protection in this jurisdiction. the question however must be asked as to whether the proper resources will be made available to enforce the laws when introduced.
By the Criminal Law Department at Healy O’Connor