Protecting child offenders’ rights: Testing the constitutionality of the National Register for sex offenders
The Constitutional Court recently declared the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 2007 (Act 32 of 2007) unconstitutional in its requirement that the names of child offenders be automatically included on the National Register for Sex Offenders when convicted of a sexual offence against a child or a person with disability. The Court held that automatic inclusion on the Register violated a child’s right in terms of section 28(2) to have their best interests taken into account as the paramount consideration in every matter affecting the child. The Court held that the individual circumstances of children should be taken into account and that they should be given the opportunity to be heard by the sentencing court regarding the placement of their details on the Register. The Court decided that sentencing courts should be given the discretion to decide whether to place a child on the Register or not.
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