Friday, 18 December 2020
Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017: Committee and Remaining Stages
I move amendment No. 9:
In page 4, line 23, after “records,” to insert “retains,”.
Amendments Nos. 9 and 12 relate to a specific additional offence of retaining intimate images in a similar vein to amendment No. 4. Amendment No. 11 is again an amendment that was raised with me by the National Observatory on Violence Against Women regarding concerns in respect of section 3 and the offence concerning the recording of an intimate image without consent. The current offence sets a disproportionately high legal bar, in that such a recording must represent a serious interference in the life and privacy of the victim. Our concern here is that the wording again places the burden on the victim to justify the nature of the abuse that has been suffered, rather than placing the focus fairly on the perpetrator. My suggested wording of amendment No. 11 would refocus the offence so that the balance is more fairly distributed between the perpetrator and the victim.
Regarding amendment No. 13, I apologise for the fact that due to the tight deadline following the Dáil debate to submit amendments, my office got the line references wrong. The amendment is intended to apply to section 4 rather than this section. I am going to proceed in the context of how I intended the amendment, instead of how it is tabled. The amendment will be familiar to the Minister of State anyway, as it is just a restatement of similar amendments tabled by Deputy Howlin in the Dáil last night. This amendment would strengthen section 4 by ensuring that where someone has distributed a threatening or offensive communication, it shall be presumed, when that communication has a negative effect, that the perpetrator knew what "the consequences of his or her acts" would be. It was this amendment the Minister of State referred to earlier regarding assuming, in respect of the Jackie Griffin video, that it would be covered in section 4. It is that part of the Bill the amendment seeks to further strengthen.