Russia to hand paedophiles life

People who commit sex crimes against children in Russia could face longer prison sentences, under plans being considered by the country's politicians. If the lower house of Parliament, the State Duma, implements the proposals, offenders would face longer

The number of sex crimes against minors has increased by 26 times over the last five years, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs reports.

Last year alone 2,500 children were killed and 70,000 others suffered from crime and abuse.

Many believe the leniency of the law over the issue is the major reason behind the rise.

“At the moment people convicted of sexual crimes against children could face up to five years in prison, but very often they get only two years or even a suspended sentence. It's awful. We are now preparing amendments to make punishment for them stronger,” Eduard Petrukhin from Federal Service of Execution of Punishment says.

The draft law that members of Russia's Public Chamber are working on suggests there would also be no parole offered in the majority of cases.

“In practice, criminals are often deemed sane and sentenced to jail,” Genry Reznik, a Public Chamber member says.

“What’s most disgusting is that they are released on parole just like all others. There are no children in jails, so they have nobody to abuse and behave well in jails, being very co-operative and complying to all the norms. And they get out,” he adds.

The amendment could have made a difference in the case of Dmitry Voronenko.  Last month a court in St. Petersburg finally sentenced him to life for the rape and murder of three young women and two children. He had been previously convicted of rape, but released early.

“With sex crimes we have a 100% rate of recidivism. Not a single paedophile, not a single sexual maniac changes his ways in prison,” psychiatrist Mikhail Vinogradov said.

The mothers of Voronenko's victims are demanding his execution, but capital punishment in Russia hasn't been carried out for 12 years due to a moratorium.

There have been calls to introduce chemical castration for rapists, a practice carried out by several American states.

However, some are afraid this doesn't work in preventing the crimes in the first place.

“Before a paedophile can be jailed for life or sentenced to death, he must be caught and proven guilty,” Oleg Zykov, Public Chamber member, says.

“That just doesn’t happen. Up to 90% of child sexual abuse cases are just never reported. Most such crimes are perpetrated within families – up to 80% of sexual abuse takes place inside the family home,” he says.

Another legislative gap allows those who've been released after being convicted of sex crimes against children to easily disappear back into society.
 
Terry M. Kinney, U.S. Department of Justice representative in Russia says a system of registration has been implemented in America. All those who committed sexual crimes are required to register at a local police station, supplying information with where they live and work.  

“The database with that information is available not only to law enforcement, but also to the community at large,” he says.  

Experts say that the time has come for a crackdown on cyber criminals as well. Hot lines for users where they could anonymously report child pornography on the web or any other materials connected to child abuse would make it easier to tackle the problem.