Written answers

Thursday, 22 February 2024

Department of Justice and Equality

Legislative Reviews

Photo of Catherine ConnollyCatherine Connolly (Galway West, Independent)
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23. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 78 of 12 December 2023, the status of the independent review of part 4 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017; the status of the recruitment process to replace the individual who had previously been engaged to carry out the study; if the new person has been appointed; the timeline for the completion of the review; the timeline for the publication of the final report; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8202/24]

Photo of Helen McEnteeHelen McEntee (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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I acknowledge the Deputy’s ongoing interest in this work.

It is generally recognised that prostitution is inherently exploitative of vulnerable persons, mainly women and girls, and that many people are forced into prostitution through trafficking, drug addiction, homelessness and poverty.

A key purpose for the 2017 Sexual Offences Act was to provide additional protection to persons involved in prostitution, especially vulnerable persons and victims of human trafficking.

It allows those engaged in prostitution to provide information to Gardaí, for instance if they were subjected to violence by clients, without fear of prosecution for selling sexual services.

Part 4 of the Sexual Offences Act 2017 introduced two new offences - paying for sexual activity with a prostitute and paying for sexual activity with a trafficked person. It also removed those who offer their services as a prostitute from the existing offences of soliciting for the purpose of prostitution and increased the penalty provided for in section 11 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993 for brothel keeping.

Section 27 of the 2017 Act provides for a review of Part 4 of the Act 3 years after its commencement.

Given that the goal of the legislation is to protect vulnerable persons, the review will include consideration of whether further measures are needed to strengthen protection for persons who engage in sexual activity for payment.

As the Deputy is aware, my Department commissioned an independent consultant to undertake the statutory review of Part 4 of the Act but, due to a number of reasons, it was not possible for the review to be completed within the desired timeframe.

Expressions of interest for a new Study lead to complete the Part 4 review of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 2017 were sought and following the closing date for receipt of applications, all options for concluding this work were considered.

On foot of those considerations, and in view of the research already undertaken and the work done compiling and analysing the submissions received, all of which have been made available to my Department, I have decided that the most efficient way to complete the review is for the Data and Research Unit in my department to draft the report using the material provided. I believe this approach will ensure the review is completed without any further undue delay and I expect it will be completed by Q3 of this year.


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