Minister for Justice must bring forward amendments to Coco’s Law

17 September 2020
  • Minister promoting new bill today on conspiracy to murder but no sign yet of Government amendments to Coco’s law.
  • Effective criminal sanctions needed for cyberbullying and online harassment.

After restoring his bill to tackle online harassment and cyberbullying to the Dáil order paper today, Labour Justice spokesperson Brendan Howlin called on the Minister for Justice to prioritise bringing forward amendments to Coco’s Law so that it can be passed by Christmas

Deputy Howlin said:

“While it is welcome that the Minister for Justice is bringing forward a law to increase the punishment for conspiracy to murder, it is essential that we tackle the crimes for which there is no effective punishment at the moment.

“Yesterday I accepted a petition from Jackie Fox, mother of Nicole Fox Fenlon calling for ‘Coco’s Law’ to be passed by Christmas. We heard outside the Dáil the searing stories from mothers who have lost children to cyberbullying.

“I first introduced this Bill more than three years ago and unfortunately we did not make the progress we wanted with the previous Minister for Justice. The Bill has been in committee for over two years.

“I am asking the Minister to prioritise it now, and bring forward the amendments as quickly as possible. I have spoken with both Minister McEntee and the Chair of the Justice Committee and there is a consensus that we can push to have this adopted by Christmas but we need action from the Government.

“This is a vital piece of legislation. Our harassment laws have not changed since the advent of text messaging and we now live in a very different age in terms of online communication.

“The Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017 seeks to modernise existing harassment laws to cover modern technology and social media and follows recommendations in the Law Reform Commission’s report on Harmful Communications and Digital Strategy.

“The Bill seeks to update existing regulation by broadening the legal definition of communication, so it covers all electronic, written and spoken word, including for example, an iMessage, WhatsApp or Facebook message, and a tweet or social media post.”

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