Law 2081 declared that sexual crimes against minors do not prescribe.
Sex crimes committed against minors in Colombia will not prescribe. In other words, regardless of the time that passes since the conduct is committed, the victims can go to justice whenever they wish and the Prosecutor’s Office must initiate an investigation. This was ratified by the Constitutional Court by giving the go-ahead to Law 2081 of 2021, which had been sued by criminal lawyers.
(Read the papers of the Court: The papers of a tough discussion on sexual crimes against minors)
With a vote of six against three, the Plenary Chamber of the Constitutional Court agreed to leave the law firm. As I had anticipated The viewer, the magistrates, Gloria Ortiz and Paola Meneses, had separately filed draft judgments that advocated leaving the rule unscathed. His colleagues did not choose one or the other paper, but agreed in the room on Wednesday, December 1, to build a new joint paper. Justices José Fernando Reyes, who is the only criminal prosecutor of the Court, and Alejandro Linares, opposed and announced that they will save their vote.
Before this law, a person who had been a victim of sexual abuse or rape as a child could wait up to twenty years after the age of majority (that is, until the age of 38) to report it. After this, the conduct would prescribe and the Prosecutor’s Office could not denounce. However, the law that Congress approved this year totally eliminates that time limit, which means that at any time the victims can go to court and the State has the obligation to open an investigation.
Nine lawsuits against this law had reached the Constitutional Court. Six were admitted and were under study. Of these, the three that were most advanced were in the offices of Ortiz and Meneses. One by one, concepts and interventions were arriving and a division in the interpretations was glimpsed. On one shore, the Government, the Attorney General’s Office, the Colombian Family Welfare Institute and other entities asked to make the law firm. On the opposite shore, criminal lawyers, academics, and the Attorney General itself asked to take her down.
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In its opinion, the Prosecutor’s Office wrote: “The interest in eradicating impunity cannot be translated into the adoption of political-criminal measures that keep victims’ access to justice administration temporarily indeterminate and that sacrifice, incidentally, protection of procedural guarantees for the accused. Indeed, the indefinite prolongation of the investigation and prosecution of criminal conduct leads to difficulties in collecting material evidence and physical evidence that affects the rights of the victims and the accused, especially when dealing with crimes of this nature. ”.
Finally, the two magistrates opted for the position that asked to leave the norm firm, although for different arguments and, separately, they filed their presentations this month. The first to do so was Meneses, who said in his ruling that imprescriptibility was a necessary measure to “overcome the greatest obstacle that appears when these crimes are perpetrated: the passage of time and the emergence of evidentiary difficulties inherent to it. ”.
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For her part, Judge Gloria Ortiz focused her presentation on human dignity. In this case, of the boys and girls victims of sexual violence. The norm “guarantees them, among others, the possibility of having a life plan and making decisions in accordance with such projection,” according to the draft ruling, since the victims will not be forced to decide whether to go to justice immediately. and while they are minors, they will have the time to understand the situation, grow, recover from the damage suffered and make a free decision at the time of their life that they choose.
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