7 things you should know about child porn laws in Trinidad and Tobago
Recently, two cases of child abuse and sexual abuse came to light as a result of videos that went viral on social media and through instant messaging.
While the videos helped launch investigations into both matters, it's crucial to note that the law takes a wide and firm stance on child pornography in Trinidad and Tobago.
The laws surrounding child pornography in Trinidad and Tobago are currently outlined under the Children’s Act.
If the proposed Cybercrime Bill is passed, some of the charges associated with child pornography could carry fine of $1 million and imprisonment for three years.
Many people know that it is illegal to photograph or film children in a sexual manner or for sexual purposes.
There are, however, other activities associated with child pornography that the public should be aware of.
Here are seven things you should know about the law’s stance on child pornography.
1. Any person who knowingly publishes, distributes, transmits or shows any child pornography; obtains access, through information and communication technology, to child pornography; has in his possession or control any pornography; purchases, exchanges or otherwise receives any child pornography, commits an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment, to a fine of $30,000 and to imprisonment for 10 years.
2. A person knowingly distributes child pornography, if he knowingly (a) offers; or (b) transmits by any means including post, courier, electronic means or facsimile, child pornography to another person (this includes Facebook, text, Whatsapp and any other form of social media).
3. Where a person is charged with an offence and claims innocence, he has to prove that he had not himself seen the child pornography, did not know, or did not have any cause to suspect it to be child pornography.
4. A person who is found in possession of child pornography is deemed to have known he was in possession of child pornography unless the contrary is proved and can be charged.
5. A child over the age of 16 who is found guilty of child pornography is subject to a fine of $20,000 and imprisonment for four years or, on conviction of indictment, imprisonment for 15 years.
6. If a child is under the age of 16, he is subject to a fine of $10,000 and imprisonment for three years if convicted or, on conviction of indictment, imprisonment for five years.
7. Members of the following services are not considered to have committed an offence if the act was done in order to execute his official or professional duties:
-Director of Forensic Science Centre or any other officer designated by the Director of the Forensic Science Centre holding the office of Scientific Officer I or above
-Anyone employed by the State in the prevention, detection, investigation, or prosecution of an offence relating to child pornography
-A legal officer involved in the prosecution or defence of a case
-A teacher or counsellor in the execution of his duties for the purpose of education or counselling
-Any other person involved in the prosecution or defence of an offence relating to child pornography
Anyone who receives such videos should not share them but instead report to the nearest police or the Children’s Authority for an investigation to be launched. Reports can be made to the Children’s Authority hotlines at 996 or 800-2014.