Tuesday, 12 October 2021
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Rights of the Child
367. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if he will include the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography from Ireland’s report to the UN under the Convention on the Rights of the Child; if his attention has been drawn to the fact that Ireland first committed to ratify this Optional Protocol in 2012; and the specific outstanding issues that need to be resolved in order for the State to fulfil this commitment. [49634/21]
Following on from my earlier reply in September 2021, I would like to assure the Deputy that the Government continues to be strongly committed to the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
A number of significant pieces of legislation had to be passed to ensure that Ireland is in complete compliance with the obligations of the Optional Protocol. The enactment of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 and the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017 constituted key steps on the pathway to the ratification of the Optional Protocol.
My Department subsequently made a submission to the Attorney General’s Office seeking confirmation as to whether Ireland was in a position to ratify the Protocol. The Attorney-General advised that while Ireland is largely compliant with the terms of the Protocol, there are some small outstanding issues that need to be resolved before the Protocol can be ratified. The main outstanding issues, which are within the remit of the Department of Justice, are to determine what, if any, legislative measures may be required to ensure that all of the offences covered by the Protocol can be prosecuted on an organised and transnational basis in line with Article 3.1 of the Protocol.
There is close engagement between officials in the Department of Justice and my Department while we await their determination of the legislative requirements. Once the Department of Justice has concluded this process, the next step will involve the development of measures that are necessary to enable ratification.
My Department co-ordinates the preparation of the next State Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in close collaboration with other Government Departments. The State report responds to the issues raised by the Committee in the List of Issues report which the Committee submitted to the State in November 2020. The Committee did not raise the issue of the non-ratification of the 2nd Optional Protocol in the List of Issues report. As a result the draft State Report that is currently available for public consultation does not include a response concerning the Second Optional Protocol. However, it has always been my intention to include an update on the ratification process in the final report to the UN Committee in February 2022.