Sexual crimes against children won’t lapse anymore in Chile

SANTIAGO – President Piñera announced that the Chilean government will introduce a law that prevents sexual abuse of children lapses. As a matter of urgency the project was introduced to congress. “This way we avoid that over time, the felonies go unpunished.”

Sebastian Piñera announced at La Moneda Palace Montt Varas Room a resolution to prevent the lapsing of any kind of sexual crime against children. The measure comes as a consequence of cases of brutal rapes that shocked the public in recent months. One such case relates to Ambar, a one-year-old baby who died after being raped and beaten in the city of Los Andes. She was in such a bad state that even the hospital personnel fighting for her life needed psychological support. Another case was that of an almost two-year-old girl who also showed signs of rape and died before getting to a health care center, called CESFAM, in Puerto Montt.

The government’s latest move changes the recent measure which extended the prescription term to 30 years. Chile’s Bar Association, saw this extension as positive but insufficient, it led to more effort to boost persecution. A lawyer of Amparo y Justicia foundation, Alejandro Espinoza pointed out: “I have the impression the penal code must be reformed, and we should remember that this code is from the century before the last one. Consequently there are some aspects that need to be rechecked, for example sexual abuse. On that matter our country’s legislation is still incomplete.” Nicolas Espejo, a lawyer working for the United Nations, said that “setting deadlines for penal prescription just supports impunity for this kind of crimes.”

Agreeing to that line, former director of the national service for minors Francisco Estrada emphasized: “I am among those who support imprescription for sexual crimes, owing to what we have learnt about it. For example in Erika Olivera’s case or Karadima’s victims, which showed that delation times are very long.”

For Espejo another concern was the lack of policies that point at the elimination of all kinds of violence against infantiles, specifically sexual abuse. He told the Bar Association that “what is the government doing to reduce the rate of infantile sexual abuse?” The answer for that question has been given by President Piñera with the new resolution.

The UN International Children’s Emergency Fund UNICEF valued the measure to eliminate the prescription for sexual offenses against children. Thus, the 5-10 year term for prescription actually contemplated in Chilean legislation will be over. UNICEF officer Francisca Palma explained that the committee of human rights for children has recommended to take a look of the prescription of sexual abuse against children to declare their non-prescription. The recommendation is based on the devastating effects that this kind of felonies produce on the lives of Children. In this sense Palma hailed the government’s move as well.

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