Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2019 Introduced Into State Parliament

Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2019 Introduced Into State Parliament

Western Australia Attorney General John Quigley

New Bill To Strengthen Child Sexual Abuse Laws In Western Australia

Victor P Taffa

  • Criminal Law Amendment (Uncertain Dates) Bill 2019 introduced into State Parliament
  • Bill seeks to improve the administration of justice for victims of child sexual abuse and ensure perpetrators are held to account

A new Bill designed to crackdown on child sexual predators will be introduced into State Parliament today.

“While this Bill will have application across a range of matters where there is uncertainty of relevant dates, there is no doubt that it will facilitate the successful prosecution of child sexual abuse offences.” Attorney General John Quigley said.

“It is often a feature of child sexual abuse cases, given the historical nature of the offending and tender age of the child, that it is difficult for the victim to recall specific dates of the abuse.”

Criminal Law Amendment (Uncertain Dates) Bill 2019 seeks to remedy situations where uncertainties as to particular dates prevent a person being found guilty of a crime that is otherwise proved to have occurred.

Under existing legislation, the date on which an offence occurred needs to be established with sufficient certainty to enable an offender to be charged and successfully convicted. This becomes a problem where allegations of age-specific sexual offences span a victim’s birthday and where legislation was changed around the time of the allegations.

Proposed amendments will resolve technical impediments to convicting perpetrators for serious offences that currently prevent prosecution and conviction, with particular regard to historical sexual offences against children.

Amendments will also address the current anomaly of neither the Children’s Court nor the Magistrates or District Courts having jurisdiction where it is uncertain whether an accused was a child or adult at the time of the commission of an offence.

Bill represents further improvements by the McGowan Government in the wake of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.