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Russian children’s ombudsperson supports bill to toughen punishment for pedophiles

The bill stipulates that sexual offences against children under 14, which result in severe damage to their health, are punishable by life imprisonment

MOSCOW, February 16. /TASS/. Russian Children’s Rights Commissioner for the President Anna Kuznetsova said she supported the bill to toughen punishment for pedophiles, submitted to the lower chamber of the Russian parliament on February 4.

"At last, a bill intended to give children additional protection against sexual offenses, has been introduced to the State Duma. Present-day statistics shows that although the overall number of crimes against children has dropped, the share of sexual offenses against minors is, regretfully, on the increase," the official wrote on her Facebook page.

She said children’s rights officials have come up with numerous initiatives on the issue and have been included into the working group to draft the bill.

Kuznetsova added that although she supports measures envisaged by the bill, she considers it important to continue working on a database of sexual offenders who committed crimes against children, permanent administrative supervision of them and other measures.

On February 14, State Duma Deputy Speaker Irina Yarovaya, who heads an inter-faction group working on the draft law, announced that it had been submitted to the State Duma.

"The bill specifies that sexual offences against children under 14, which result in severe damage to their health, will be punishable by life imprisonment," she said.

Yarovaya pointed out that such crimes were reported later in time because people prefer to keep them in secret, while children facing continuous harm are psychologically distraught. This is the reason why the bill makes it possible to extend the statute of limitations for crimes against minors until they come of age, she said.

The bill for the first time stipulates an additional aggravating factor, recorded when a crime is committed by those living together with kids and teenagers or responsible for their upbringing, education and protection of their rights, Yarovaya said.

The document also considers spreading pornography among children over the Internet as an aggravating factor, and stipulates liability for coercing minors into sexual acts via the Internet.

According to the Russian Investigative Committee’s statistics, a total of 7,011 cases were launched into suspected sexual offenses against children. In 2016, the number of such cases stood at 5,835.