Domestic Violence Bill Obtains Initial Approval

March 5, 2004

THE Legislative Assembly last week voted 39 to 7 in favor of a bill penalizing violence against women that has been debated since 1999, according to an official statement from the Assembly.

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) will review the bill to determine whether it is constitutional.

If no discrepancies are found, the bill will return to the Assembly for a final debate and vote.

The Sala IV has declared previous versions of the bill unconstitutional on three occasions (TT, Nov. 28, 2003).

Aggressors convicted under the new law would face sentences of between 20 and 35 years in prison for killing a woman.

Additionally, the bill calls for aggressors convicted of violence against women to enroll in programs of rehabilitation for problems such as violent behavior and substance abuse (TT, Feb. 20).

Members of the Libertarian Party had ardently opposed the bill, which they called discriminatory. But late last week they voluntarily withdrew 90 of 101 motions they had filed against it, speeding its passage, according to the Assembly statement.

The government last month created a special commission to tackle the problem after a rash of domestic violence slayings this year.

In one case earlier this year, a man shot and killed three of his children, injured a fourth and shot his pregnant companion twice in the abdomen before taking his own life. The woman and her four-monthold fetus survived (TT, Jan. 30).

 

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