May 04, 2018



Considering the alarming rise in the number of cases on sexual abuse, on May 3, Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera proposed to remove the statute of limitations on sex crimes, currently between five and ten years, depending on the nature of the offense.

This move comes days after victims of sexual abuse by Fernando Karadima, a Catholic priest in Chile, met with the Pope seeking retribution for the alleged crimes. In 2011, a Vatican investigation declared the priest guilty of sexually abusing boys when he served in Santiago in the 1970s and 1980s. However, owing to the brief statute of limitations in Chile, the priest never faced civilian justice.

President Pinera called on Chile’s lawmakers to act quickly in approving the Bill. According to the President, it would end impunity in cases that now have a statute of limitations that varies between 5 and 10 years, depending on the nature of the crime. The President said, “Children who have been sexually abused have the right to defend themselves and to ensure justice is served.”

Commenting on the President’s move, James Hamilton, one of the victims of this case, said, “This is a miracle. It’s a huge advance. I’m very excited. I wasn’t expecting this.” Notably, Hamilton was surprised and excited on this decision as when he had earlier approached bishops regarding the case, Hamilton stated that the bishops covered up the abuse “criminals” who deserved to be jailed.

However, whether the Bill would be applied retroactively or only affect crimes committed following its passage was not immediately clear.

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