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Publication

Special Rapporteur on Child Protection

Published: 1 February 2018
From: Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Dr Conor O’Mahony was appointed as Special Rapporteur on Child Protection by a Government Decision of July 2019. The initial appointment of the Rapporteur was made following the Supreme Court Decision in May 2006 in the CC case, which held that section 1(1) of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1935, which made it an offence to have unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl aged under 15 years, was unconstitutional as it did not allow for a defence of mistaken belief as to the age of the girl.

The term of office for the Rapporteur is three years and he/she is required to prepare, annually, a report setting out the results of the previous year’s work.

Dr. O’Connor was appointed for a term of three years commencing in July 2019. His current term in office will expire in July 2022.

The Terms of Reference of the Rapporteur to July 2016 were as follows:

  • keep under review and to audit legal developments for the protection of children;
  • assess what impact, if any, litigation in national and international courts will have on child protection;
  • prepare, annually, a report setting out the results of the previous year’s work. This report will be submitted to the Dáil and Seanad for consideration and debate and be published and;
  • to examine, upon request, the scope and application of existing legislative provisions and to make comments/recommendations as appropriate.

The Rapporteur is entitled to consult with Departments of Government and the Ombudsman for Children about any legislative initiatives designed to enhance child protection.

On his re-appointment in July 2016, the Minister revised the Terms of Reference for the role to improve the effectiveness of the Special Rapporteur by focusing on specific priorities.

Accordingly, the revised Terms of Reference, effective from July 2016, are as follows:

1) The Rapporteur shall, in relation to the protection of children and on the request of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs

a) Review and report on specific national and international legal developments for the protection of children

b) Examine the scope and application of specific existing or proposed legislative provisions and to make comments/recommendations as appropriate

c) Report on specific developments in legislation or litigation in relevant jurisdictions.

2) The Rapporteur shall report on relevant litigation in national courts and assess the impact, if any, such litigation will have on child protection.

3) The Rapporteur shall prepare, annually, a report setting out the results of the previous year’s work in relation to 1) and 2) above.

4) The Rapporteur will provide, if requested by the Minister, discrete proposals for reform prior to the submission of the annual report.

5) The annual report of the Rapporteur will be submitted to the Government for approval to publish and will be laid before the Oireachtas and published.

All of the Reports of the Child Protection Rapporteur are laid before the Oireachtas and published here.

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