GANA and Conani say draft Penal Code contains setbacks – El Nuevo Diario Newspaper (Dominican Republic)

GANA and Conani say draft Penal Code contains setbacks – El Nuevo Diario Newspaper (Dominican Republic)
GANA and Conani say draft Penal Code contains setbacks – El Nuevo Diario Newspaper (Dominican Republic)

Facade of the National Council for Children and Adolescents (Conani). (Photo: External source)

EL NUEVO DIARIO, SANTO DOMINGO.- The Cabinet for Children and Adolescents (GANA) and the National Council for Children and Adolescents (Conani) expressed their concern on Thursday regarding the draft Penal Code approved in second reading by the Senate, because it contains articles that represent a “significant” setback.

For the entities, the new provisions violate Law 136-03, Code for the Protection System and Fundamental Rights of Children and Adolescents and Law 24-97 on Domestic Violence.

In a press release, the public institutions indicated that they sent a letter to the Chamber of Deputies, where they specifically pointed out articles 121, 122, 123, 235, 236, 237 and 238 of the project.

In this regard, they proposed making modifications, substitutions and/or deletions of certain texts, paying special attention to matters of extreme sensitivity, such as not including rape and incest among the imprescriptible crimes.

Gana and Conani considered it alarming that paragraph III of article 123 states that “correction and discipline of children by parents or guardians, without a pattern of violence or physical abuse, will not be considered domestic violence,” suggesting that violence against children and adolescents will not be penalized if there are no recurrent attacks.

They claimed that this approach is contrary to what is established in Law 136-03, in Article 12: “All children and adolescents have the right to personal integrity. This right includes respect for dignity, the inviolability of physical, psychological, moral and sexual integrity, including the preservation of their image, identity, autonomy of values, ideas, beliefs, space and personal objects.”

It also contradicts the paragraph of the article according to which “It is the responsibility of the family, the State and society to protect them against any form of exploitation, mistreatment, torture, abuse or negligence that affects their personal integrity.”

They noted that, in addition to national legislation, the bill also contradicts the State’s commitment against corporal punishment of children and adolescents, undertaken through the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in whose most recent follow-up, the country received the recommendation to explicitly prohibit corporal punishment by law in all contexts as a matter of priority, and to offer training to parents and all professionals who deal with children on alternative forms of discipline.

The suggestion is based on the Committee’s General Comment No. 8 (2006) on the right of the child to protection from corporal punishment and other cruel and degrading forms of punishment (CRC/C/GC/8).

With this, the Dominican Republic would also be ignoring the scientific evidence accumulated by humanity in recent decades on the negative impact that abuse has on the proper development of children and adolescents, due to its potential to deteriorate their brains through cortisol poisoning – the stress hormone – and the atrophy of brain cells; which generally turns them into adults incapable of properly managing their emotions, with little or no empathy and/or violent, among other characteristics that are detrimental to the democratic and peaceful society that we must build.

Finally, the institutions called on legislators from both chambers to take into account the observations, so that the necessary adjustments can be made and a properly agreed Penal Code can be achieved.

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