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Sweden looks to beef up child sex abuse laws

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Sweden looks to beef up child sex abuse laws
15:11 CET+01:00
Sweden should extend the statute of limitations for child sex abuse crimes and make it easier to require criminal background checks on people who work with children, according to an inquiry submitted to the justice minister on Thursday.

“The suggestion is that the statute of limitations will not start from the time of the crime, but from the day the victim turns 18,” Minister of Justice Beatrice Ask told the Local.

The suggestion comes from an inquiry ordered by the ministry to examine how Sweden should implement an EU directive about child abuse.

According to Charlotta Riberdahl, who led the inquiry, such a directive may require changes in the Swedish laws concerning child abuse, child pornography and sexual exploitation of children.

One reason for change, according to Ask, is that young children may be unwilling or unable to speak out about their suffering.

“The child might be too young to explain what has happened or be too dependent on the abuser so that the child is too afraid to say anything. In those cases it would be wrong if the government said that it's been too long since the crime was committed,” she said.

Other changes to the law would allow volunteer organizations such as football clubs and religious organizations to require volunteers and paid employees who work with children to undergo a criminal background check.

The checks would thus allow the groups to know if people interested in working with children had been convicted of crimes like trafficking, murder, violent robbery and assault, as well as different forms of child abuse.

Currently, the right to perform criminal background checks is only been available for actual workplaces like schools, not associations.

“Parents are not required to show an extract from their criminal records when they work with a group of children that includes their own child,” Riberdahl told the Local, but emphasizing that the government should not impede on people parent their children.

However, this exception does not apply if the parent works with groups of children, even if the child is active in the organization but in another group.

The next step for the Ministry of Justice is to consult with relevant organizations and institutions to consider the inquiry's suggestions.

If no major objections are raised, the proposed changes will be taken into effect on December 1st next year.

Eric Johansson

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