The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


High Court sets important precedent for Internet child pornography

The Gisborne High Court has set an important precedent supporting action against Internet child pornography when it rejected an appeal, and upheld Department of Internal Affairs prosecution practices.

A Gisborne man had appealed his conviction in the Gisborne District Court, arguing, in effect, that the electronic pictures on his computer were not “publications” under the Films Videos and Publications Classification Act. The Act prohibits child pornography.

The General Manager of the Department’s Gaming and Censorship Regulation Unit, Keith Manch, said that the Department is delighted with the High Court’s decision.

“The Court’s ruling means that users of child pornography cannot hide from the law in cyberspace,” Mr Manch said.

“This case is important because the argument that electronic pictures are not ‘publications’ had never been tested under this Act before and this decision establishes a precedent on what is a publication.”

“All the Department’s Internet child pornography prosecutions have centred on possession, distribution or making electronic images. This appeal had possible implications for all of those cases and all future prosecutions.”

In April last year the Gisborne District Court had found the appellant guilty on 44 charges of possessing child pornography. That Court had made its decision after a four-day defended hearing.

The Court ordered him to pay fines and costs totalling $4,500 and the destruction of the computer and disks that contained child pornography.

He then appealed his convictions and sentence to the High Court, which has rejected all 11 of his grounds of appeal and upheld the sentence.

“The High Court decision ensures that New Zealand can continue to take its part in international action against child pornography,” Mr Manch said.

“Child pornography is about children being sexually abused so that people can get ‘pleasure’ from viewing it anywhere in the world.

“The users of child pornography must not be able to hide behind electronic cross-border trade, and the High Court has made it harder for them to do so.”

Media contact:

Keith Manch Phone 04 495 9449; Cellular 027 445 6420
General Manager Gaming and Censorship Regulation

Steve O’Brien Phone 04 495 9371
Censorship Manager

Vincent Cholewa Phone 04 495 9350; Cellular 025 272 4270
Communications Advisor