Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ecuador: abortion will not be decriminalised in the new penal Code

Following the threat of President Correa to resign if debate continued on an attempt by some members of Ecuador’s National Assembly to decriminalize abortion as part of a major revision of its penal code, the draft bill intended to legalize abortion in certain cases was withdrawn last week.
According to a report in the Argentine Independent:
Twenty new crimes will be added Ecuador’s criminal code and abortion laws will remain unchanged after Ecuador’s National Assembly approved two of three parts of the country’s new penal code on the weekend.

The legislature adopted 77 amendments to the Código Orgánico Integral Penal (COIP) relating to the definition of criminal offences and proceedings, with 99 votes in favour, 20 against and six abstaining.

Ecuador’s new penal code – which will now be submitted to President Rafeal Correa for approval – punishes crimes including: femicide, contract killings (both with sentences of up to 26 years in prison), genocide, ethnocide, apartheid, human trafficking, and hate crimes.

Rosana Alvarado, president of the National Assembly said: “The penal code should respond to the society’s needs and only when this is established can it take effect.”

No changes were made to decriminalising abortion when pregnancy results from a woman being raped, which had been supported in parliament in the governing Alianza País party.

Last Friday the Alianza País member Paola Pabon withdrew her draft bill establishing the decriminalisation of abortion in certain cases after President Correa threatened to resign if the debate continued.

“For the unity of the legislators, for the unity of my 100 fellow congressmen, I withdraw my motion so there is no possibility the block could break,” Pabon said.

Pabon and three other female Alianza Pais members in favour of decriminalising abortion for rape victims were absent during the vote as they were attending the Third Legal Congress on Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Mexico.

A coalition of women’s organisations released a statement denouncing the decision to leave abortion laws unchanged. “Far from responding to the needs of the population, it {the code] completely disregards the proposals submitted my women’s organisations and is limited to the personal beliefs of President Correa,” they wrote.

Aside from abortion, article 146 concerning professional malpractice and criminal negligence was also hotly debated. Manslaughter resulting from malpractice now carries a five-year maximum jail sentence.

Among the new offences is the “attempted murder against the President of the Republic” punishable by 10 to 13 years in prison. Further, the crime of treason, which originally only applied to military personnel, now also applies to civilians as well.

Other changes include the addition of crimes against the security of information and communication systems, intended to create a legal framework to prevent cyber crimes.

The changes will come into force pending approval of the final ‘Third Book’ of the new penal code.