Keywords: laws, Russia

Russia toughens laws to curb pedophilia


Frolov, Anton; Jan 17 2014
Type of WorkExplanation of new Russian laws
Publication Languageeng, rus

The adoption of the Russia Law "On protection of victims' rights" has caused a significant transformation of the country's legislation. One of the key and long-awaited reforms will be the introductions of a serious control over individuals accused of pedophilia. As described by Pravda.Ru experts, pedophiles are incorrigible and are held back only by fear.

The Law on the rights of crime victims was signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin on December 30th. Pravda.Ru already wrote that the law would bring about changes in the criminal justice plane. However, in addition the document amended a number of statutes that relate to the victims and those convicted of sexual crimes against minors.

The main innovation is introduction of a life-long administrative supervision of pedophiles. The law will hold them on a short leash and suggests limiting the movement of former convicts within the country.

So far the law does not spell out which areas the released convicts will not be able to attend and how these lists will be created. Despite this, a step forward has been taken, and the mechanism will be launched in the near future. Released pedophiles will be monitored by law enforcement agencies at all times, which naturally should improve the recidivism statistics.

However, in special cases a lifelong administrative supervision may be waived. According to the chairman of the Duma Committee on arbitration, civil and criminal penalties Pavel Krasheninnikov, the period of supervision will depend on the severity of the offense. The length of administrative supervision may vary and can be 25 years or three years.

In addition, the existing rules of ex-convicts surveillance will remain in force. Former convicts shall not leave their residence between 11pm and 6am, may not visit bars, restaurants, concerts and have to regularly check in with a special department.

The new rules on lifetime supervision may be hard to implement. Currently the problem of supervision in some regions is already acute, and monitoring of the released convicts is only a formality.

"I wouldn't go as far as to say that supervision is conditional," told Pravda.Ru a lawyer with the human rights movement "Resistance" Alexander Koshkin. "Ex-convicts are monitored, and their whereabouts are even checked at night. I believe that a life-long supervision of pedophiles is necessary, because a recurrence of such crimes is unique and amounts to 98-99 percent. There is another issue here. The legislation provides for the appointment of supervision not for life, but, say, for three years. This is right, because not all cases are equal."

Those who can prove that at the time of the crime they did not know the age of the victim may avoid a lifelong supervision. For example, a 13 -year-old girl may look like an adult and the courts will take this into account. The term "actual knowledge" implies that the defendant did not know the age of the minor and did not suspect that his actions could constitute pedophilia. In this case, the sentence may be reduced. 

The problem is that the qualifying circumstance "knowingly" had disappeared from the Russian legislation. The Plenum of the Supreme Court handed down a judgment in which judges are told to use the non-existent qualifier. Thus, a pedophile may "knock off" his sentence and subsequent administrative supervision. Psychiatrists say that pedophilia is an incurable disease, and those who could prove their ignorance of the victim's age may escape supervision.

"Administrative supervision in this situation is a necessity," said Anna Levchenko, a lawyer and a fighter against pedophiles. "It is difficult to understand how this supervision will be implemented. We've had the law on administrative supervision for a long time, and it's very good that it is under a discussion again.  
Usually supervision is implemented by local police, but in this situation with pedophiles the local police clearly would not be able to deal with it alone. I think that administrative oversight will be quite costly.
We need to adopt a Euro-American approach. In these countries those convicted of pedophilia have to wear GPS bracelets that prohibit the released pedophiles from approaching children's institutions like schools and kindergartens closer than a certain distance. This might work, because these are the places where they seek out their victims. "

According to psychiatrist Mikhail Vinogradov, the law that provides for lifelong supervision of pedophiles should be tightened even more, including severe measures and serious sentences.

"We have to use different sanctions against pedophiles. 

  • First and foremost, pedophiles must be sentenced to a full term even for the first offense under the criminal law. There should be no half term, no quarter term," said Mikhail Vinogradov. 
  • "Second, there should be no parole, no talk about a pedophile's correction in the colony because they had nobody to seduce and rape there. Their supervision should be life-long, they do not change, and they are held back only by fear."

Legislators believe that the innovations in criminal practice are timely, adequate and validated. According to the deputy chairman of the Duma Committee on Constitutional Legislation and State Construction Dmitry Vyatkin, Russia will find resources and means to enforce the law.

"When we talk about some of the measures, for example, lifetime supervision, we say that it will not be for everyone, it will be for those people who have committed heinous crimes," said Dmitry Vyatkin.  "With regard to implementation of the law, everything is feasible. This can be done by penal inspections, hospitals, or police. Our system of public bodies is so extensive, so many people are working there, do you think there will be no one to really enforce such supervision? We have resources. The important thing is that this work should be organized and carried out in a strict accordance with administrative regulations."       

This could be true. At least, let's hope that it will be feasible. The legislative initiative promoted for so long was finally adopted, and it is certainly a victory. Of course, we are not talking about a victory over pedophiles, but for the criminal law that in some areas is outdated this is a serious step forward.

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