The lengthy Criminal Code (No. 2) Amendment Bill, 2013, is only just in committee and has yet to be returned to the House of Representatives. But the bill which Government claims seeks to toughen sexual offences against children, is under fire. The Constitutional and Finance standing Committee has already agreed, after Tuesday’s overwhelming Committee meeting, to hold at least one Public consultation. However, the push to convince the nation that the bill which contains 24 amendments, are solely to protect kids began this morning with a media Breakfast. Fresh off Tuesday night’s presentation by the Churches, Deputy Solicitor General Michelle Daly began to debunk their interpretation of one of the church’s concerns. The argument stated that one of the new laws undermines section 56, Government’s take, “Implied repeal”.
Ms. Michelle Daly- Deputy Solicitor General
“They are both on par. There is no precedent between the two. One has not implied…I imagine that Mr. Saldivar is attempting to imply that there has been an implied repeal of Section 53. Now we do not in-law generally use implied repeal. If we intended to repeal something, then, we expressly repeal it as you have seen from going to the Criminal Code No. 2 Bill, there has been no expressed repeal of section 53. And, by virtue of the comments that we have received, it may be that there is the potential that people may interpret that there is an implied repeal. And therefore, what we may need to do, or what I believe we will be doing, is to revisit the provision to ensure that we remove that ambiguity and make it expressly clear that we are neither impliedly or expressly repealing Section 53.
Michelle Daly told PLUS News that under the law, sodomy and rape are treated one and the same – while one can theoretically consent to sodomy, She says the act is still illegal and prosecutable, and sodomy taking place during an act of rape is likewise covered. Other amendments propose the creation of a National Sex Offender Registry and punishments for incitement to drop proceedings and failure to assist with a prosecution. But the age of consent for intercourse remains 16 even as the country recognizes a child as anyone under 18. How do the two reconcile? Ms. Daly explains.”
Ms. Michelle Daly
“Under the current law, the provisions…there are provisions in the Bill that seek to firstly allow for…in the present law, let me backtrack it; In the present Criminal Code, you would only have carnal knowledge of a female, i.e. If you have sex with an individual under the age of sixteen, it could only be applicable…you could only bring an offence against the person who had sex with the female. We sought to have this law, be applicable to males and females in a bid to protect the boys who were previously unprotected under this offence. So, now, whether you are a boy or a girl having sex under sixteen, it is illegal it is deemed unlawful sexual activity”.
The crime of unlawful carnal knowledge is renamed “unlawful sexual intercourse”, another controversial treatment to Indecent Assault codes, while simultaneously expanding it to include crimes against girls and boys. According to CEO in the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation, Judith Alpuche, the ministry that also released the controversial 2013 revised gender Policy, the amendments have been a long time coming. ”
Ms. Judith Alpuche- CEO in the Ministry of Human Development
“The charge has been laid that Section 46 that speaks to rape doesn’t have to do with children. Well how do you protect these sixteen and seventeen year olds who are above the age of sexual consent or even the eight year old who is raped-or even the fourteen year old who does not consent and is outright raped? So, it’s not a matter, then, of the age and unlawful sexual intercourse, but outright rape. So, you know, I am very sorry if this causes disquiet for some people…I think it should…because we need to acknowledge the reality of what is on the ground and we need to really think about as a community if we are serious about protecting children or if we are about promoting other agendas; plain and simple”.
The office of the Special Envoy for Women and Children is also active in promotion of the bill. Its head, Kim Simplis Barrow, made a passionate plea today for understanding.
Kim Simplis Barrow – Special Envoy for Women and Children
“I personally, I am personally sick and tired of men not going to jail. They are getting a slap on the wrist just because our laws are flawed. Please, people, I am asking this is one of the reasons we invited the media here to get you guys to do proper reporting, get you guys to go into this Criminal Code and go over it and read it and understand it. I mean, there is so much is being said, I was really blown away by some of the things that is being said. I think that for some people, they don’t live our reality. They don’t sit and hear the stories about these little boys when they tell us what is happening to them, how they are violated and so, we should keep our laws the way they are…vague? If a child is violated, if a boy especially is violated, is raped by another man, not say how this child is, and leave it vague, so that the judge’s hands are still tied? No. We need to move away from it and we need to face reality. This is our reality and our perpetrators must be brought to justice”.
While the Bill does include the protection of children against sexual violence, something the churches applauded last night, the media breakfast failed to address other controversial contents of the bill such as “reasonable belief that the perpetrator got consent, which experts say puts the onus on the victim…. and another law which bipasses parental authority for issues such as contraception, the morning after pill ,prevention of pregnancy and giving of certain advice that may be contrary to a parent’s moral, religious and cultural values. A public consultation will be held next Tuesday, October 15.