Colombian senators are pushing for a constitutional amendment that will allow child rapists to be handed a life sentence, Terra reported on Tuesday.
Life sentencing is currently banned in Colombia, however, Senator Gilma Jimenez from the Green Party is heading a debate in Congress to authorize a referendum so Colombians can vote on the issue.
The idea is to change article 34 of the Constitution in order to raise the penalty against child abusers.
“With regard to crimes of homicide, rape and sexual exploitation, abduction and severe ill treatment committed against children under 14 and children with physical or mental disability, there should be life imprisonment, according to the law,” states the proposal.
The debate began in the First Senate Commission on Tuesday. Jimenez hopes the proposal will be adopted quickly by Congress so that the referendum can be put to the people by the end of the year.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Eduardo Enríquez Maya of the Conservative Party, said the initiative brings two challenges that will impact Colombia and democracy.
The first challenge, he said, is “to use a participatory instrument such as the People’s Initiative Referendum to amend an article of the Constitution,” and the second is, “the popular nature of this subject, in the sense of making an exception in our constitution and laws to benefit children and their rights.”
Members of the Social Unity Party, Conservatory party and Green party support the change, while Senators from the Liberal and Polo Democratico parties are against the amendment.
It’s the second attempt to bring this issue to a referendum. The previous attempt in 2010 failed due to procedural defects.