Belgian government promises to crack down on sex offenders

The Belgian government promised Thursday, June 3 to toughen the repressive arsenal against sex offenders after the suicide of a 14-year-old girl who had suffered gang rape a few days earlier, a tragedy that shakes Belgium.

Before the deputies, Vincent Van Quickenborne, Minister of Justice, said he hoped the adoption by Parliament before the summer of a bill which provides for “a doubled maximum penalty»In case of rape. “For the rape of a minor under 14 years of age, the penalty would be increased to 28 years’ imprisonment», Affirmed the Flemish liberal minister.

He also pledged to “generalize»To the whole country investigative methods experimented with some success in the jurisdiction of the public prosecutor’s office in Antwerp, in the north of the country, where a trace of saliva (not only semen) taken from the body or clothing of the victim can be used as evidence. “We are going to extend this approach to the whole country, we are going to accelerate this, so that it is generalized to all the prosecutors.», a this Vincent Van Quickenborne.

In January, the Antwerp public prosecutor’s office made an initial assessment of a pilot project launched in 2017 providing for this type of forensic expertise when the sexual assault is contested by the alleged perpetrator. He noted an almost doubling of the number of convictions since the start of the experiment, rising to a proportion of 36% of cases against 20% previously.

Government wants to better protect rape victims

The drama that took place in mid-May in Ghent, in the north of the country, revealed this week by the Flemish press, aroused great emotion. The Minister of Justice denounced the facts “atrociousAnd the Prime Minister joined Wednesday, June 2 in the evening, in a silent vigil in memory of the victim.

A 14-year-old girl committed suicide on May 19, four days after being gang raped in a cemetery in Ghent, a scene that was filmed and posted on social media by the perpetrators. The victim’s father believed that his daughter’s suicide was linked to the discovery of these images made public. Five young people between the ages of 14 and 19 were arrested on suspicion of having participated in the acts. Two of them, adults, were imprisoned. The other three were placed in closed centers for minors.

«Too often we have abandoned the victims to their fate, we want to do everything possible to ensure that they are better protected», Insisted Vincent Van Quickenborne. For his part, Alexander De Croo, Prime Minister, compared the sexual violence suffered by women to “a pandemic», «that we must fight with so much energyThan that of the coronavirus.

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