Life sentence for child rapists in Colombia: On which side of the scale are you?

It is expected that in 2019 citizens can decide at the polls whether or not to impose life sentences for child molesters

Life sentence for child rapists in Colombia: On which side of the scale are you?

In Colombia, every day, 59 minors were sexually abused during the first four months of 2018. The figures are alarming and legislative organisms have been debating for decades in an ethical dilemma that does not quite decide the type of punishment they could receive rapists and murderers of minors, that is why, according to an announcement by President-elect Iván Duque made on July 11, in 2019 the citizens will be in charge of deciding whether or not to endorse life imprisonment for pedophiles.

Leer en español: Cadena perpetua para violadores de niños en Colombia: ¿En qué lado de la balanza está usted?

In front of mayors and governors of the country, Iván Duque promised to allow citizens to go to the polls in 2019 to validate or reject the law that seeks to punish with life in prison the violations of minors. "We have to give the Colombian society the capacity of prevention and sanction in time. This country needs to shudder and also sanction exemplarily those who have committed these crimes, so I am supporting the life sentence for murderers and rapists of children", said Ivan Duque before local media.

This is not the first time that a president promises to take charge of child safety in the nation. President Juan Manuel Santos promoted the proposal of life imprisonment, but did not have the green light in the legislature. Some of his detractors even claim that Santos would have used the issue as part of his campaign only to get re-elected in 2014.

We must add the attempts made in 2008 by the late Senator Gilma Jiménez, who promoted the proposal of life imprisonment but failed to obtain the approval of the Constitutional Court. Nine years later, her daughter Yohana Jiménez unsuccessfully led the same initiative after learning about the shocking case of Yuliana Samboní, the seven-year-old girl who was raped, tortured and murdered by Rafael Uribe Noguera, a 38-year-old architect belonging to a well-known family from the capital.

Life imprisonment: A real solution?

Despite the alarming figures, some experts believe that life imprisonment does not represent a solution to end the scourge. This is argued by criminal lawyer Camilo Burbano, who during an interview for the Zoom program of NTN24, indicated that life imprisonment will not reduce the number of child rapes, since the problem lies not in the punishment, but in the investigation of the case and impunity.

As Burbano explains, Colombia has already found that increasing punishment does not end crime. An example of this is Law 890 approved in 2004, which consisted in raising the penalty time for all crimes with the aim of reducing crime. However, and as mentioned by the expert, after the approval of the norm, the crime continued to rise and with this it was proven once again that impunity motivates the crime.

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However, those in favor of life imprisonment for child rapists argue that the lack of political will contributes to the growth of the scourge and blocks attempts to make visible with these penalties the violence suffered by children in the country. For Yohana Jiménez, promoter of the aforementioned referendum, the objective with this penalty is to send a message of no tolerance to child abuse and make an exception in the Constitution that does not allow life imprisonment to dignify and ensure the lives of children.

59 children are raped every 24 hours

According to figures from the Institute of Forensic Medicine of Colombia, only between January and April of 2018 there were 7,173 verified cases of sexual abuse of minors in Colombia. This number corresponds to an average of 59 children raped per day and presented a regrettable increase of 1,342 cases more than in the same period observed in 2017, when 5,831 were victims of this scourge.

According to the institute, the most affected group are children between 10 and 13 years of age, with more than 2,500 registered cases of sexual abuse. 85% of crimes are committed by relatives, close friends, or members of the child's home.

It is expected that Colombian citizens can go to the polls in 2019 to vote during local elections for the referendum for life imprisonment of child rapists. As in the political sphere, the population is divided between those who claim exemplary punishment for pedophiles and see this type of penalty as part of the solution, compared to those who believe that such a measure will not help root out the problem. On which side of the balance are you?


LatinAmerincan Post | Krishna Jaramillo
Translated from “Cadena perpetua para violadores de niños Colombia: ¿En qué lado de la balanza está usted?”

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