The Bill notes that Jamaica currently has no law which specifically treats with, or recognizes child pornography as a distinct criminal offence.
However, it points out that international efforts to combat child pornography have resulted in several international conventions, including the 1999 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Jamaica has signed and ratified, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, which Jamaica has signed but has not yet ratified.
“These conventions require member states to take action to criminalize the production, possession, importation, exportation and distribution of child pornography,” the Bill’s Memorandum of Objects and Reasons states.
“A decision has, therefore, been taken to enact legislation to make the production, possession, importation, exportation and distribution of child pornography a criminal offence in Jamaica,” it concluded.
The Bill provides for sentences of up to 20 years imprisonment, as well as fines of as much as $500,000.
Crimes include: visual presentations with children engaged in sexual activities; audio recordings or written material that has, as its dominant characteristic, the description, presentation or representation, for a sexual purpose, sexual activity with a child; and any visual representation, audio recording or written material that advocates or counsels sexual activity with a child.
The Bill describes sexual activities as : actual or simulated – sexual intercourse; activity, other than sexual intercourse involving the penetration of the anus, vagina or mouth with any part of a person’s body, or the anus or vagina with anything else; touching a sexual organ or anal region in a manner which is reasonably considered as sexual; bestiality; masturbation; or sadistic or masochistic abuse.
Visual representation includes – produced images; undeveloped film; videotape; or data stored in electronic form capable of conversion into a visual image.
International bodies have frequently criticized Jamaica, over many years, for failing to enact legislation specifically addressing commercial sexual exploitation of children. A Bill was promised in the 2007/2008 Throne Speech, but was not delivered.
Senator Lightbourne disclosed at a Post Cabinet Press Briefing in April, that the Cabinet had approved the tabling of the Bill in Parliament to recognize and treat child pornography as a criminal offence.
She confirmed then that there had been “an increase in the sexual exploitation of children, and more so by the use of technology.”
“It is common knowledge now that there are pictures of children involved in sexual acts on your cell phones, and on the internet,” she said then.
Globally, child pornography refers to the use of images or films, depicting sexually explicit activities involving a child.