Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tighter laws on child pornography urged in Gibraltar

I'm pleased to see Brian Reyes writing today in the Gibraltar Chronicle, has highlighted the concerns hundreds of local people have expressed in a group on Facebook recently, about Child Pornography Laws in Gibraltar.

The group, created by my good friend and well known Gibraltar saxophonist Nick Gonzalez, urges that 'Child Pornography Laws in Gibraltar Should be Changed NOW'.

The Facebook group, was set up following a recent court case that highlighted a glaring hole in Gibraltar’s legislation.

A man who admitted distributing nearly 5,000 pornographic images of children, including some extreme photos, was jailed for 18 months for publishing obscene material. But he could not be prosecuted for having the images in the first place because possession of child pornography is not a crime in Gibraltar.

Nick Gonzalez, the group’s creator, echoing the sentiments of many of us, said "I set up this group out of anger".

"I wanted to create awareness and put pressure on the government and the judicial system to change this situation as soon as possible."

In just over a week over 650 people have now joined the group. In the Chronicle, Brian Reyes says that many of the comments on the group's pages are "often emotive and angry, but mainly express underlying bewilderment as to why Gibraltar has such an inexplicable shortfall in its laws", and adds:

"Change, however, is on its way, though the timetable is not certain."

The Gibraltar Government has drafted a new law covering computer misuse and including penalties of up to 10 years in jail for possession of child pornography.

But as Brian Reyes points out, although the Bill has been ready since last year, it has not yet been tabled in Parliament and passed into law.

A separate legislative proposal covering sexual offences has also been drafted. It includes provisions for a sexual offenders’ register, which Gibraltar does not currently have, and for which Gibraltar's equality group GGR, lead by Felix Alvarez have been campaigning for since 2005.

But this too has yet to be tabled in Parliament and passed into law.

These and many other laws, such as those surrounding issues of human rights, are long overdue for reform. Some of these are being focused on now through the introduction of proposals by Minister for Justice Daniel Feetham recently. Let's hope these will all be reformed... sooner rather than later!

You too can show your support

If you are a Facebook member and would like to show your support, you can join the group here: 'Child Pornography Laws in Gibraltar Should be Changed NOW'

Brian Reyes Blog

Brian Reyes, is a Gibraltarian journalist. Whilst he regularly writes in the Gibraltar Chronicle, Brian also offers his personal views and comments on many other interesting issues in his own blog over at Letters From Gibraltar.