Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, marked Safer Internet Day by commencing Coco’s Law, though a Cork TD has warned that the law is just the "first step" with more resources needed.
Coco's Law, also known as the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act creates two new offences which criminalise the non-consensual distribution of intimate images.
The first offence deals with the distribution or publication of intimate images without consent and with intent to cause harm. The penalties applicable can be an unlimited fine and/or 7 years imprisonment.
The second offence deals with the taking, distribution or publication of intimate images without consent even if there is no specific intent to cause harm. This offence will now carry a maximum penalty of a €5,000 fine and/or 12 months imprisonment.
Minister McEntee described image-based abuse as “absolutely disgusting” and said that it has the potential to “ruin lives”.
She said that she was honoured to pay tribute to Nicole Fox, whose mother has campaigned to raise awareness about the impact of online abuse following her daughter’s suicide in 2018.
,” added Minister McEntee.
Holly Cairns TD described the passing of the legislation as “a positive step” in addressing image-based sexual abuse but said that more work is still required.
“This is only the first step, the law needs to be supported with proper resources for Gardaí and victim support organisations. We know that many victims of sexual assaults and violence are hesitant to come forward and often experience a hostile legal system. Gardái, social workers, and others need specialised training on how to respond to and deal with issues like this."
She said that Ireland needs to have “an incredibly serious and difficult conversation on this and related issues”.