A law proposal is being examined by parliament to allow tougher sentencing for child-sex offenders.
The bill submitted by Akel MP Irini Charalambidou essentially seeks to better define and categorise offences against children, introduce protective measures and enforce penalties of up to life imprisonment for the most severe crimes.
According to the proposal which is currently being examined by House Legal Affairs Committee, if an adult is found guilty of sexually abusing a victim under the age of 14 they face a life term in prison.
In cases where the perpetrator is found guilty of abusing a victim under the age of 17 they face a prison sentence of up to 14 years.
Under the bill, life terms will also be given to those who commit sex crimes against children while in a position of trust. This includes educators, relatives of the victim, guardians, medical practitioners and psychologists.
Furthermore, the proposal stipulates that convicted child molesters must undergo compulsory psychological rehabilitation treatment during their time behind bars.
It has been frequently said that one of the system’s biggest shortcomings is that no single database or record of offences against children exists in Cyprus.
The bill seeks to address this by forcing convicted child sex offenders to register their names and housing details with police and inform the authorities each time they move address or face going back to prison. In cases where a school or park opens in close proximity to the living quarters of a paedophile then the authorities have the right to order that person to relocate.
Currently, the police and social services maintain their own records of child sex offenders but they are separate. The system has been heavily criticised as it is said to lead to a fragmented service and inability to plan appropriately in order to meet the needs of minors.
The proposal was submitted after a number of recent incidents highlighted the urgent need for an organised and effective system to protect minors at risk of harm.