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Argentina: Bill Penalizes “Grooming” of Minors on the Internet

(Feb. 8, 2012) On November 2, 2011, the Senate of Argentina approved and sent to the Cámara de Diputados (Chamber of Deputies) for further debate a bill that penalizes contact with minors through the Internet for sexual purposes, also known as “grooming” of children through the Internet. (Gustavo Ybarra, El Senado Tipificó como Delito el Grooming, LA NACIóN (Nov. 3, 2011), ) & Bill No. 4767-D-2010, Chamber of Deputies website (official site, last visited Feb. 8, 2012).)

The bill amends the Criminal Code to punish, with a term of imprisonment of from six months to four years, those who approach children and adolescents for the purpose of corruption, after having contacted them through the Internet or via any other form of information technology. (Ybarra, supra.) Thus, simple contact with the child by any electronic means with the clear intent of “grooming” will be the crime; it is the preparation for an act of abuse of a child that will be penalized. In addition, if an actual meeting or physical contact with a minor is arranged, the punishment will be increased by two to four years. (Id.)

Senator Sonia Escudero, President of the Senate Commission of Justice and Criminal Matters, stated that the purpose of the amendment is to punish the behavior before the actual sexual crime is perpetrated; the criminal behavior under the bill is to attract and enthrall the child for sexual purposes. (Ybarra, supra.) As a member of the Argentine Association of Legal Information Technology (Asociación Argentina de Informática Juridica) stated, the “grooming” is a preliminary crime that prepares the victim to be subjected to a more serious crime. (Senado Aprobó la Penalización de la Captación de Menores en la Red con Fines Sexuales, EL INTRANSIGENTE (Nov. 2, 2011).)

Final passage of the bill is expected in the Cámara de Diputados during the 2012 legislative session. (Fernando Tomeo, Las Cinco Leyes que Eespera la Comunidad Informática Argentina en 2012, LA NACIÓN (Jan. 6, 2012).)