Ireland joins international protocol to end the sale of children

The UN protocol provides definitions for the 'sale of children', 'child prostitution' and 'child pornography'

Ireland joins international protocol to end the sale of children

Image: Facebook/UNODC - United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime/Kay Chernush

The Government says Ireland now meets all legal requirements of an international protocol to end the sale of children.

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone says the country should move quickly to ratify the Second Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. 

It provides definitions for the offences of 'sale of children', 'child prostitution' and 'child pornography'.

Minister Zappone is recommending that after almost two decades of preparations, including the passing of several laws, it is time for Ireland to "send a message out loud and clear that those who wish to harm or abuse children will find no safe haven here."

Minister Zappone says the Second Optional Protocol also shows that "our laws, supports and protections meet the highest standards."

"Protecting, safeguarding and supporting children is the mission of my department. It is why it was established.

"Ratification of the Optional Protocol is the culmination of years of preparation.

"We have enacted legislation, namely The Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998, the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 and the Sexual Offences Act (2017), which shows that ratification is backed by real action to protect children and jail those who wish to harm them."

Ireland and children's rights

It creates obligations on governments to criminalize and punish the activities related to these offences.

It also requires punishment not only for those offering or delivering children for the purposes of sexual exploitation, transfer of organs or children for profit or forced labour, but also for anyone accepting the child for these activities.

Ireland signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in September 1990 and ratified it in 1992.

The Department of Children and Youth Affairs has a co-ordinating responsibility for the implementation of the UNCRC and its related protocols.

Ireland has signed three optional protocols to the UNCRC: one relating to children in armed conflict, another on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and a third in relation to communications procedure.

The department has prepared a document for the attention of the Attorney-General to show that Ireland is in compliance with the provision of the Convention and there is no need for further measures to be put in place.