The nine reformed articles in the new Penal Code

The nine reformed articles in the new Penal Code
The nine reformed articles in the new Penal Code

They deal with discrimination, rape, domestic or intrafamily violence and non-consensual sexual activity.

The Senate of the Republic amended nine articles before approving the second reading of the draft reform of the Penal Code: eight in the session and one in the special commission that studied the piece. These are articles 14, 123, 135, 136, 159, 160, 185, 188 and 226.

The Senate left out the word “sex” in Article 185, which deals with discrimination, and introduced the term “gender.” Among the changes, it refers to Article 39 of the Constitution, in which the word gender appears twice. In this regard, members of the special commission indicated that the article was modified to make it “more comprehensive.”

The main part of the sanctioned article states: “Discrimination shall constitute any unequal or humiliating treatment of a natural person on the basis of gender, colour, age, disability, nationality, family ties, language, religion, political or philosophical opinion, social or personal condition, in accordance with article 39 of the Constitution, and any other form of discrimination based on characteristics or conditions inherent to the person. Discrimination shall be punishable by fifteen days to one year of minor imprisonment and a fine of one to two minimum wages of the public sector, if one or any of the following facts result from it.”

Before being amended last Wednesday, the article stated: “Discrimination constitutes any unequal or degrading treatment of a natural person based on his or her origin or nationality, age, sex, colour, family ties, physical appearance, socioeconomic status, health status, disability, custom, political opinion, trade union activity, occupation, or whether or not he or she belongs to a particular ethnic group, race or religion, and any other form of discrimination based on characteristics or conditions inherent to the person.”

In this regard, the senator for the National District, Faride Raful, who is considered one of the voices in Congress that most defends the rights of LGBTIQ+ groups, sees the change made to the article that penalizes discrimination as a step forward.

“The issue that was not approved at that time regarding discrimination was introduced. Now in this code that the Senate approved, equality is protected for all regardless of sexual orientation. I think that is progress,” commented the PRM leader on the Esta Noche Mariasela program, after leaving the session where the legislation was voted on.

The terms gender and “sexual orientation” have caused differences between conservative sectors and those who defend the LGBTIQ+ community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexual and queer), to the point that it has been the point of greatest dissent to sanction the new Penal Code in recent legislatures, according to congressmen. This, although the causes generate more opinion and were the main obstacle to endorsing the project.

Both Alexis Jiménez, president of the Permanent Commission of Justice of the Chamber of Deputies, and Senator Ramón Genao (PRSC-La Vega), the main proponent of the project, have said on different occasions that the issue of the causes is no longer what has complicated the approval of the law, but the issue of discrimination (article 185), due to differences related to the terms “sexual orientation” and/or “gender.” Both legislators agree that the majority of congressmen agree that the exceptions to abortion should be dealt with in a special law.

They remove the “sexual orientation”

Another amendment to the code was to paragraph 8 of article 136, which deals with the aggravated forms of rape. At Genao’s request, the senators removed paragraph 8, which included the controversial expression sexual orientation. “If it is motivated by the basis of correction for sexual orientation,” stated the deleted paragraph, which punishes rape with twenty to thirty years of prison and a fine of thirty to forty minimum wages in the public sector.

Municipal districts among entities exempt from criminal liability

The senator from La Vega proposed modifications to six articles, one of which is Article 14, on entities exempt from criminal liability. With Genao’s motion, municipal districts will also be free of criminal liability. The article only included the Dominican State, the National District, municipalities, town councils, municipal district boards and churches.

The other motions of the reformer touched on articles 123, 159, 160 and 188.

“Penalty” to children undergoes changes

Regarding article 123, which deals with domestic or intra-family violence, the main part was simplified and paragraph III, on “paying” children, was modified.

The approved piece, in its paragraph III, specifies: “In the case of physical discipline against children and adolescents, the principles of proportionality and minimum intervention, established in this Penal Code, and the best interest of the child and adolescent enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic, will be taken into account.”

The replaced paragraph read: “Correction and discipline of children by parents or guardians, without a pattern of violence or physical abuse, shall not be considered domestic violence.”

Increase in penalties for non-consensual biomedical experiments

Anyone who performs or orders a biomedical experiment to be performed on another person without first having obtained his or her express consent or that of the persons who must legally give it in his or her place or after such consent has been expressly revoked, will be punished with four to ten years of imprisonment and a fine of ten to twenty minimum wages of the public sector.

This is stated in Article 159 of the approved project. Ramón Genao proposed this increase in the penalty, since the previous one punished offenders with fifteen days to one year of minor imprisonment and a fine of one to two minimum wages of the public sector.

Similarly, paragraph I of article 160, on injury or death due to non-consensual experimentation, was amended so that if the victim suffers a permanent injury or a disability of more than ninety days, the offence is punishable by four to ten years of major imprisonment and a fine of ten to twenty times the minimum wage in the public sector. Before the changes, the paragraph established a prison sentence of two to three years and a fine of nine to fifteen times the minimum wage in the public sector.

Non-consensual sexual activity

Another change introduced to the bill was the increase in the penalty for non-consensual sexual activity, in article 135; it is classified in the same way as rape. Now, anyone in a relationship who engages in non-consensual sexual activity (indicated in the article) will be punished with ten to twenty years of imprisonment and a fine of twenty to thirty times the minimum wage in the public sector.

Form changes to two articles of the project

The Senate also modified Article 188 to organize its wording, and the main part of the article and numeral 8 were touched. This was done at the request of Senators Ramón Genao and Faride Raful.

Finally, the representative of the National District proposed another amendment to Article 226. The number of the law referred to in the article was included, as well as the date of its promulgation.

The bill amending the Penal Code establishes 72 new articles that penalize contract killing, femicide, genocide, bullying, damage with chemical substances (devil’s acid), public and judicial bribery, harassment, corruption, and domestic violence. The bill increases the maximum sentence from 30 to 40 years. It also establishes cumulative sentences of up to 60 years.

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