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Oct 9, 2013

Presenters and Drafters defend amendment to criminal code

Earlier we told you about the churches concern on the amendment to the criminal code. But the presenters of the amendment defended the bill vigorously this morning. For the office of the Special Envoy for Women and Children it is to protect children including boys and to strengthen the penalties against offenders of children. Duane Moody has that story.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

The bill, the amendment to criminal code number two, was at the center of the discussion today at a press conference held by the Ministry of Human Development Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation through the office of the Special Envoy for Women and Children. Some twenty-five amendments have been made to the criminal code with respect to the protection of children—both boys and girls—from sexual perpetrators. The amendment in its entirety calls for stiffer punishment and a more specific description of the crimes against children.

 

Kim Simplis Barrow, Special Envoy for Women and Children

Kim Simplis Barrow

“These recommended amendments are a result of studies on the vulnerabilities of the child protection system; research on the outcome of sexual abuse cases over time and information coming from real life cases of sexual assaults and rapes that are dealt with by our social workers, police, medical professionals and others who work on the frontline of this issue.  In the current laws, only girls are protected from carnal knowledge perpetrated by men. The proposed amendments also provide better protection against rape in all its forms—not only for children, but also for adults.”

 

According to C.E.O. in the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation, Judith Alpuche, it is an opportunity to have a better piece of legislation for the protection of boys and girls against female and male perpetrators.

 

Judith Alpuche, C.E.O., Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation & Poverty Alleviation

“I have personally listened to the cries of parents who say my fourteen year old is being forced-ripe by some thirty year old woman and he wants to fall out of school and he is bright and what can I do and there is absolutely nothing that can be done. And we need to protect our boys because although boys cannot become pregnant, the psychological damage that is done is the same; it is the same.”

 

To the issue that the language could be interpreted as a contradiction to section fifty-three of the criminal code that is being challenged in the Court. Deputy Solicitor General, who presented on the changes to the draft, says they are no changes to that section of the law.

 

Michelle Daly

Michelle Daly, Deputy Solicitor General

“If you have a section fifty-three that creates a strict offence in terms of there is no question as to consent or lack thereof—in relation to an unnatural crime—I cannot fathom that the courts will interpret that if you have consent and you are charged under fifty-three that they would then use it as an defense. Because as has been evident in the cases, I don’t think that there is an issue with defense in relation to section fifty-three—whether it is a consenting act or an act without consent. Where there has been an unnatural crime and you established that there is an unnatural crime, then you should be able to secure a conviction.”

 

Alpuche says that in being responsible and ensuring child protection and justice, the amendment need not shy away from the quote “indelicate” language.

 

Judith Alpuche

Judith Alpuche

“These amendments and the need for these amendments predate any UNIBAM, any constitutional challenge. I’ve been in this business for twenty years. We have been working on this for at least six years now and they remain the same because the issues remain the same. And so as Miss Daly says, if there is a way for us to remove any doubt about what we are trying to do, then we will ask the legal drafters to do that because we are not being preemptive. It is not our roll to preempt what the Chief Justice will rule or any such thing. We are trying to protect our children. The next thing that has been said is about the language; that the language is indelicate. Well you know what, these issues are indelicate and we have to be very clear about what is happening. And what is happening to our children includes penetration of the anus, of vagina with penis and that is the language that we need to have—and mouth indeed; with objects also. We have seen it all in the child protection sector.”

 

Kim Simplis Barrow

“We will support this bill a hundred percent; with the changes, with whatever changes that we need to make, but this bill will be supported and it will be a day for the children when this is passed in the House; a day of celebration for these children.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

 

A public consultation on the criminal code will be held next Tuesday.

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2 Responses for “Presenters and Drafters defend amendment to criminal code”

  1. UDP you lost your credibility says:

    you got a constitutional crisis. The government is about to fall. How long the criminals hang on depends on the will of the Belizean people to put up with this crap.

    Considering the lack of GOB credibility, ramrodding a law through at this time seems meaningless, regardless of the party writing it or the intent. It is all suspect as criminal or shoddy at this point.

    Thank the UDP for putting the country into a tail spin.

  2. Ixchel Pop says:

    The issue of the passport sale goes really way back….way back – a one time seen as a viable government foreign exchange earning venture. It is in our collective political DNA, hypocritical if tthe opposition pretends to be incensed by all this sordid business. The move to force to government to take action and adress this issue will have to come from groups like the chamber and BNTU etc. As for the religious fanatics- trying to gain some leverage during this period, they have become irrelevant a long time ago. Perhaps they are afraid of legislation that will make them more accountable when they continue to abuse our children. They are a sham and the passport issue will be very distracting when the legislation is passed.

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