Chilean President Signs Bill Eliminating Statute of Limitations on Child Sex Crimes, Opening Way to Prosecution of Priests

On June 11th, Chilean President Sebastian Pinera signed a bill that eliminates the statute of limitations on sex crimes involving children. The passing of the new Chilean law is the latest news involving the Catholic sexual abuse scandal in Chile, where investigations against Catholic clergy are ongoing.

“From now on, time will no longer be an accomplice of the abusers, nor an ally of impunity,” said Pinera, according to the National Catholic Reporter (NCR). “From now on, the responsibility of those who abuse our children will be irrevocable, just as the pain they caused our children is irrevocable.”

New Chilean Law

The new law was first introduced some time ago in 2010. Reuters reports that Pinera “revived” it following a visit from Pope Francis in 2018. Says the NCR, the new law regulates crimes involving “the kidnapping or abduction of a minor, as well as the torture, unlawful coercion or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and all that occurs during an act of rape, carnal access to a minor, statutory rape or other sexual offenses.” Previously, the law had given perpetrators impunity for anywhere from five to ten years. The new law removes any time limit for prosecuting suspects and also allows victims to take civil action against anyone who protects a perpetrator. The new law, however, is not retroactive.

Jose Andres Murillo, who was abused by former priest Fernando Karadima, says that while it would be better if the law were retroactive, it is still a step in the right direction. According to NCR, Murillo told a Chilean radio station, “it is important to recognize that we’re creating legislation and actually catching up with what the International Convention on the Rights of the Child requires of us, and in that sense, I think it’s good news.”

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Source: Church Leaders