A working group of lawmakers headed by United Russia MP Irina Yarovaya has proposed the introduction of life sentences for sex crimes involving victims under the age of 12.
“For the first time, we are proposing to make life sentences a punishment for sex crimes against children younger than 12,” Yarovaya said at a session of the working group on Thursday.
The Russian MP also spoke in support of changes to the Statute of Limitations in cases of crimes committed against children in order to increase the timeframe within which complaints can be made for the purpose of prosecution.
The bill prepared by the working group would also make an attempt to conceal sex crimes a separate crime, and would consider situations in which a suspect lives in the same home as their victim to be an aggravating factor in the crime.
In a speech before the working-group session, Yarovaya also said that criminal use of the internet was allowing offenders to commit crimes against a large number of potential victims at the same time.
“Because of that, we made distribution of pornographic materials among children via internet and coercing underage citizens to engage in sex acts by means of the internet aggravating factors in our draft,” she said.
Russian Ombudsman for Children’s Rights Anna Kuznetsova supports the proposed changes to the Statute of Limitations.
“The law must meet the challenges of our time. Unfortunately, some of the crimes that emerge today have been committed many years ago and it is not possible to punish the criminals,” she said.
The internet also “remains open” for pedophiles and called on lawmakers to take urgent action to address this situation, Kuznetsova added.
According to the Ombudsman, the number of sex crimes committed against children in Russia has increased from 8,000 to almost 12,000 in the past five years. She said that the current situation demanded immediate measures by lawmakers.