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Johannesburg - Tuesday's Constitutional Court judgment declaring a section of the Sexual Offences Act unconstitutional will allow child sex offenders to be treated on the merits of their case, three NGOs said.
“Inclusion on the register (of sex offenders) creates barriers for the children to educational and employment opportunities that could reduce the likelihood of reoffending,” Childline SA, the Teddy Bear Clinic for Abused Children, and the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders said in a joint statement.
“It also results in shame and stigmatisation that could lead to mental and psychological harm.”
The court declared section 50(2)(a) of the act unconstitutional as it required the names of convicted child sex offenders to be entered in the National Sex Offenders Register.
The three NGOs, represented by the Centre for Child Law, entered the matter as friends of the court and made submissions to the court that section 50(2)(a) was unconstitutional when applied to children.
They believed that before a decision was made to place a child's name on the register, an assessment needed to be carried out by a suitably qualified professional.
The assessment would determine the legal intervention needed, including placement of the child’s name on the register, and also treatment options.
“This is important as children respond more to treatment than adult offenders as they are continually developing psychologically,” the organisations said.