Thursday, March 01, 2012

Government defends rights of sex offenders

Government defends rights of sex offenders  -  The Telegraph
"  THE rights of vulnerable children have to be balanced with the rights of pedophiles when it comes to naming sex offenders, the Victorian government says.
One of the 90 recommendations of an inquiry into the state's child protection system was to change the law allowing for the identities of child-sex offenders to be suppressed by the courts.
Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge said while she had personal sympathy for the recommendation, pedophiles' rights had to be considered.

"We have to balance the rights of children and families also with ... the rights of pedophiles," she told Fairfax Radio today. "If they have completed the sentence they have a right to then live in the community. "There is a lot of concern about naming and shaming and the lynch mobs."
Ms Wooldridge said pedophiles had to be able to live somewhere after completing their sentence.
"I have the interests of children always at heart," she said.  "That is my priority but we do have a legal system that says everyone has rights in this world." The inquiry, headed by former supreme court judge Philip Cummins, noted that changes to the law, making it an offence to harass offenders living in the community, could help guard against vigilantism.

Another key recommendation was extending mandatory reporting, which currently applies to professionals such as teachers, to priests and others working in religious organisations. Ms Wooldridge said there was merit in the recommendation but there were also concerns it would not necessarily protect more children from abuse or neglect. "What there is not evidence for is ... whether it makes a difference to children or not," she said.
"We've just got to balance, you know, getting a lot more reports in and making sure we can focus on those who are being abused and neglected." "If we get more reports we need more workers to be able to respond to those reports, and at the moment, as you know, our workforce is under massive pressure."

Ms Wooldridge said she doubted the accuracy of a key figure quoted in the report that one in four children born in Victoria in 2011 would be the subject of a child protection report by their 18th birthday. Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said he was open to the idea of child-sex offenders being named. "However it is a complex issue ... it's not a yes or no for me," he told reporters.  "

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