Protecting minors

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Soliciting prostitution services from minors under 18 years of age and any use or production of child pornography will be considered a crime under the MSAR law, according to the third standing committee currently discussing revisions to the Penal Law.
The changes are intended mainly to eliminate a legal void for the protection of minors between the age of 14 and 18, since any sexual acts with minors under 14 are already considered a crime under the Penal Code.
“The client will now have to assume his responsibility, in situations not involving threat but a service transaction (…) in which child prostitution exists and according to recommendations from international organisations criminalising solicitation is a way to prevent the issue,” said the committee president, Legislator Cheang Chi Keong.
Currently only exploitation of prostitution services (organizing and promoting the activities) in the MSAR is considered a crime, with a prison sentence between one and three years, and until now the law only penalised the exploitation of underage prostitution but not the solicitation of the said services.
Legislators agreed with the government that the offence should be considered a public crime – able to be investigated by the Public Prosecutor’s Office – and have a maximum prison penalty of four years.
The use of minors in producing pornographic materials, and the distribution or use of the materials will also be considered a public crime, with a prison sentence of between one and five years. This offence will be included in the list of penalised crimes committed by criminal organisations for profit.
Further details on the changes will be debated by the committee on Thursday.

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