Those convicted of rape or aggravated indecent assault will soon face minimum mandatory 15-year jail terms under proposed amendments to the criminal code set to be enacted to arrest the rising number of sexual assault cases.
A sex offenders’ register is also being considered.
Cabinet has approved amendments to the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act to introduce stiff penalties for perpetrators of sexual violence.
Rapists will be sentenced to life imprisonment or “any definite period of imprisonment of not less than 15 years”.
Presently, the criminal code does not provide for a mandatory sentence for rape or aggravated indecent assault, which is defined as the sexual penetration of a victim, including men, without consent.
Official data shows an average 22 women filed rape cases daily between January 2020 and December 2021.
Police also claim more than 16 000 cases of rape were reported in the two years to December 2021, with 7 377 and 8 715 women reporting in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act considers performing sexual or anal intercourse with a female person without her consent as rape.
As part of the ongoing reform programme, the authorities are considering raising the statute of limitations — the time limit for filing charges against an alleged offender — for sexual offences to 40 years.
Section 23 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act presently sets the prescriptive period for reporting offences such as rape at 20 years.
Plans are underway to set up a sex offenders’ register to monitor and control ex-convicts upon release from prison
The Legal Aid Directorate in the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs is being capacitated to provide free legal representation to those accused of rape and other offences to guard against substantial legal injustices such as wrongful convictions.
“Section 65 (“Rape”) (4) of the principal Act is amended by the repeal of paragraph (b) and the substitution of “(b) he knows that she has not consented to it or realizes that there is a real risk or possibility that she may not have consented to it; shall be guilty of rape and liable to, if the crime was committed in aggravating circumstances, to life imprisonment or any definite period of imprisonment of not less than fifteen years; or if there are no aggravating circumstances, to life imprisonment or imprisonment for a period of not more than 15 years,” according to the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Bill.
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