Public Consultation on the Criminal Code (Amendment) Act, 2013 Print E-mail
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Thursday, 17 October 2013 00:00

Constitution and Foreign Affairs CommitteeA public consultation on the Criminal Code (Amendment) Act, 2013 was held on Tuesday of this week in the Jaguar Auditorium at the University of Belize Campus in Belmopan. Organized by the Constitution and Foreign Affairs Committee, the public meeting was to further consider the Act, which was read in the House of Representatives at the last house meeting and which seeks to protect children from various sexual offences.

The Act to amend the Criminal Code, Chapter 101 of the Substantive Laws of Belize, Revised Edition 2000-2003, states as follows: to make provisions to reform the law in relation to sexual offences against children, abduction, kidnapping, procurement, incest, the age of criminal liability and witness protection.

Chairing the Constitution and Foreign Affairs Committee was the Hon. Patrick Faber, Minister of Education Youth and Sports. He was joined at the table by the Hon. John Saldivar, the Minister of National Security, as well as by Dolores Balderamos Garcia, Belize Rural Central Area Representative.

“The only agenda that the Government has is to put in protection our children that are being abused on a daily basis,” stated Patrick Faber, at Tuesday’s consultation.

There will be no further public consultation to discuss the Criminal Code Act, 2013. However; further hearings on the Act will be held with such bodies as the Bar Association in the Committee Room after which the Act goes to both a second and third reading in the House of Representatives, then finally before the Governor General Sir Colville Young. Even before the third reading their can still be amendments to the Act says Minister Patrick Faber, but he urged citizens to continue sending in their concerns and questions and to write their Area Representatives.

In her presentation on Tuesday, Judith Alpuche, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Human Development, said that the Policy Directives for Amendments on the current Act seeks equal protection for girls and boys, bring equal recognition of male and female predators and clearly articulates the various forms of rape,  as well as bringing stiffer penalties where needed. The Act clearly articulates the various forms of non-penetration offenses that can be committed against children.

There was a powerful lobby of religious interest groups at Tuesdays Consultation, to further consult on the Criminal Code that will bring stiffer penalties to predators. Deacon Juan Gomez, from the Mount Carmel Parish in Benque Viejo del Carmen, and who received education in Rome before moving to Mexico and Belize, asked that instead of “splitting hairs” trying to articulate rape, “…could we punish pornography…can we criminalize abortion.”