Ministers comment coming bill to specify pedophilia paragraph in Penal Code

Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu (IRL).
Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu (IRL). Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu (IRL) said on Thursday that if the Penal Code’s provisions on pedophilia were to be changed, the signal the change sends to society would have to be assessed very carefully.

In connection with the case of writer Kaur Kender, who stands accused of the creation and distribution of child pornography in the form of his short story “Untitled 12”, Center Party MP Oudekki Loone announced on Wednesday that she was preparing to move to make the Penal Code more specific, so that written works that did not constitute an offense against a real child would no longer be punishable.

Reinsalu said at Thursday’s government press conference that the legislator did make a moral assessment as well when making choices concerning the Penal Code. In the minister’s opinion, the prosecutor in the Kender case neither interpreted the law in their favor nor did they treat it inappropriately.

The society’s position and the state’s criminal policy goal was to prevent pedophilia and defend the rights of children to their privacy. “No matter whether in the case of a written text or child pornography in a cartoon,” Reinsalu said.

Changing the Penal Code, different legal interests needed to be weighed carefully, the minister added. “This can’t be a question raised by a debate in the media. We need to assess very clearly what kind of signal we’re giving,” he added.

Ossinovski: Collision of fundamental values requires debate

The chairman of the Social Democrats, Minister of Health and Labor Jevgeni Ossinovski, said that this was doubtlessly a very sensitive and emotional issue, and a collision of two different values.

“When values collide, it’s important to find a balance. Based on the law in effect, the prosecutor has taken the question of finding that balance to court,” Ossinovski said.

According to Ossinovski, one of the fundamental values of a free society was the freedom of speech, and, as a fundamental part of it, creative freedom as well. “What kind of punishment to impose on the breaking of one or the other moral norm of society is a very necessary debate. Considering the publication or distribution of certain works inappropriate is one thing. Ordering the psychiatric evaluation of a writer and asking if he’s insane in order to punish him as an artist is another,” Ossinovski said.

Oudekki Loone told ERR that a new bill to change paragraph 178 of the Penal Code, based on which the prosecution is going after Kender, would be introduced in the Riigikogu on Monday, and had already been signed by MPs of different parties. “Today we have signatures out of the Center Party, the Reform Party, the Free Party, and the Social Democratic Party,” Loone commented.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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