“The sentences handed out to serious offenders have been pathetic and have sent all the wrong messages about the community’s abhorrence of their actions,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
In cases highlighted previously by Family First, a man convicted for possession of 2000 pornographic images and movies of child porn, including images of adults sexually abusing babies, received a punishment of only eight months home detention. And a Masterton man who imported and exported disturbing graphic sexual images of very young boys for five years received six months home detention – next door to a children’s playgroup.
“Each one of these images represents the violation and degradation of our most vulnerable – the ultimate in child abuse from which these children may take a lifetime to recover. Yet the average effect of the punishment for each image is staying home for less than three hours,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“As well as that, judges have allowed name suppression to protect the offenders. Yet Christchurch Judge David Saunders is completely right when he says the ‘naming and shaming’ of offenders has a real deterrent effect.”
“Only last year, name suppression was granted to a doctor who not only had 290,000 images of young girls in explicit sexual poses but as well as that, the doctor was found to be distributing objectionable material further.”
In 2009, the Department of Internal Affairs said that fewer than half the nation’s convicted child-pornography offenders were being jailed in the face of a “plague” of child pornography that is getting “far more violent” and “sicker”, and with younger victims. Internal Affairs deputy secretary Keith Manch told a conference in Auckland in March 2009 that only 24 of 56 offenders eligible for imprisonment in the past two years were jailed. The remainder got home detention, fines or community work.
“These decisions by judges are spineless and send a dangerously weak message. And they are perpetuating the problem by allowing offenders to be placed where the community, children, and even the offenders themselves, are put further at risk.”
“It’s time the law was toughened up and judges were put on notice to send a strong message showing the community’s disgust with the sexual abuse and exploitation of young people. The welfare and protection of our young people should be paramount,” says Mr McCoskrie.