CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY
Minister Flanagan makes a statement on the Budapest Convention on Cyber Crime and the Lanzarote Convention on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.
I would like to thank the Deputy for raising this issue and providing the opportunity to outline to the House the current position in relation to Ireland’s ratification of these two Council of Europe treaties.
Firstly, I will provide an update in relation to ratification of the Cybercrime Convention, otherwise known as the Budapest Convention, which Ireland signed on 28 February 2002. Much work has been done on implementing the provisions of the Convention in the meantime, notwithstanding unforeseen delays along the way, largely reflecting developments at European level.
It is important to first point out that the vast majority of the provisions in the Cybercrime Convention are already provided for in Irish law. The Deputy will be aware that it is necessary to give effect to legal provisions in international instruments in national law before the ratification process can be finalised. The most significant development towards ratification of the Convention was enactment in 2017, by this Government, of the first piece of legislation in this jurisdiction specifically dedicated to dealing with cybercrime.
The Criminal Justice (Offences Relating to Information Systems) Act 2017 gave effect to an EU Directive on attacks against information systems. The key provisions of the Directive mirror the key provisions of the Cybercrime Convention. The new legislation, therefore, also gives effect to provisions of the Convention relating to offences against information systems and their data, and search and seizure powers in relation to such data. It was originally intended that this legislation would also cover any other outstanding elements of the Convention - mainly relating to production orders for computer data and subscriber information - but that was not possible due to an imminent transposition date for the EU Directive.
I am pleased to inform the House that the current Government Legislation Programme makes provision for the drafting of a new Cybercrime Bill to give effect to those remaining provisions of the Cybercrime Convention not already provided for in national law in order to enable ratification of the Budapest Convention. Furthermore, a new area of responsibility for cybercrime has been established within my Department and one of the key priorities of this new area is to progress ratification of the Budapest Convention. To this end, officials recently attended a meeting of the Cybercrime Convention Committee in Strasbourg and held discussions with the Council of Europe Secretariat in order to progress outstanding issues for Ireland in relation to the Convention.
Turning now to the Convention on the protection of children against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, also known as the Lanzarote Convention, which was signed by Ireland on 25 October, 2007. Significant progress has been made towards ensuring that Ireland is in a position to ratify this Convention. The Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 has been enacted, Part 2 of which strengthens the law relating to the sexual exploitation of children, including child pornography, and criminalises the use of information and communication technology to facilitate such exploitation. This legislation ensures the State’s compliance with criminal law provisions in the Lanzarote Convention.
In relation to other elements of the Convention, my Department has carried out a detailed review of compliance, in consultation with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and other relevant stakeholders, such as the Garda Síochána and Health Service Executive. Information was sought regarding the child protection, prevention and victim support aspects of the Convention. While the Department now has most of the information required for ratification, some stakeholder work is still required to ensure that Ireland is fully compliant in all areas of the Convention. Once that work has been completed, and the Office of the Attorney General has been consulted, steps towards formal ratification can be taken.
I trust that the very significant progress made in the lifetime of this administration, not least through enactment of recent legislation, strongly demonstrates this Government’s commitment to ratification by Ireland of these two important international treaties.