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HFHR comments on public register of sexual offenders

“A public register is not an effective tool to counteract the threats associated with sex crime”, reads the HFHR’s opinion statement on a draft law on addressing threats of sex crime.

According to its sponsors, the bill, which has recently been presented to the Sejm, “constitutes an answer to the need for developing new elements of the national system of prevention and suppression of sex crime, especially the offences committed against children and the youth”.

The draft law provides for, among other things, the creation of a register of sexual offenders, which is to comprise two separate databases: the “Limited Access Register” and the “Public Register”. The former will be accessible only to the state and local government bodies, educational facilities and organisers of leisure activities for children and younger adolescents that have a statutory authorisation. The other register will be available for the general public and published on the website of the Public Information Bulletin of the Ministry of Justice. This register will include those of sexual offenders who committed the aggravated rape of a minor under the age of 15 or perpetrated a sexual offence more than once.

The HFHR does not oppose the idea of introducing a legal mechanism for registering sexual offenders into Polish law. “In our opinion, however, only a limited group of entities should be able to access such a database”, explains Dr Piotr Kładoczny, the HFHR’s Secretary of the Board.

According to the Foundation, the concept of a public register of sexual offenders should be abolished. “A register that may be accessed by everyone is not an effective way to reduce the risks associated with sex crime; instead, it will cause unnecessary fears in the society and bring many negative consequences for sex offenders’ families”, notes Dr Piotr Kładoczny.

In the assessment of the HFHR, actions taken to more effectively counteract sex crime should be accompanied by the organisation of a wide array of preventive measures. It is necessary to take more comprehensive action, which must include involving public authorities in more effective organisation of re-adaptation of sexual offenders and also wide education of the society, in particular minors.

Also the Polish Association of Sexology has spoken against the creation of a public register of sexual offenders. The Society’s opinion statement emphasised that the existence of such a register would significantly reduce the available treatment options for sexual offenders because of the absence of prospects for the offenders returning to society.

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