Children's organizations consider that the preliminary draft Law for the Protection of Children and Adolescents in the Face of Violence it represents a "very important advance" in the protection of children in Spain, but they demand that it be accompanied by a sufficient budget. The Council of Ministers approved this text on first reading on Friday, which will extend the statute of limitations for sexual crimes against minors, propose changes in the judicial procedure to reduce the number of statements made by victims and a broad package of prevention measures in the family, educational and health fields. The organizations of childhood demand the specialization of the courts in violence against the minors, something that is not between the announcements that the Government has transferred this Friday.
After the Council of Ministers, President Pedro Sánchez, has appeared to give an account of the agreements reached and take stock of his mandate. Sanchez has reaffirmed that the approval of this draft is a "personal commitment" he had with the collective. He has reported that the statute of limitations for the most serious crimes against children – including sexual abuse – will be extended. The time will start to run when the victim has 30, and not 18, as it happens now, which means that they will be imprescriptible, at least, until those affected have 40. It has also reported that the text modifies the generic aggravating factor of discrimination to include in it the age of the victim, reasons for aporophobia or social exclusion or any other reason based on a discriminatory prejudice.
The president has highlighted the creation of a new catalog of crimes against children and adolescents committed through the Internet and information and communication technologies, which includes the incitement to suicide, self-harm or the promotion or facilitation of eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia. "New criminal types are created to avoid impunity for conducts carried out through technological means and communication," he said.
"Specific programs will also be established for inmates convicted of crimes related to violence against children and adolescents to combat recidivism, as well as monitoring for the granting of permits and conditional release," Sánchez added. The norm will also include the obligation to apply the pre-constituted test for children under 14 years of age, that is, they only have to declare once during the judicial process, not as before, when children are forced to do so in some cases up to four times. occasions The preliminary draft supposes a change of paradigm, it implies the modification of 11 laws and places the minor in the center of the policies of the public powers as holder of subjective rights. If the deadlines are met, the parliamentary procedure could begin in February.
"We still do not know the final text, but if the measures that have been put forward go ahead, Spain will be a pioneer country, we would have the most advanced regulatory framework in the European Union in terms of children's rights," says Andrés Conde, general director of Save the Children Spain, one of the organizations that has mobilized most to demand a law that protects children from violence. "The most important thing is that the norm is going to suppose a prevention framework much higher than what existed until now. We are not only going to punish crimes, but to prevent them from being committed. The best ways to combat violence are prevention mechanisms, "he says.
Conde notes that the NGO has missed specific protection measures for vulnerable groups such as children who are victims of gender violence or trafficking and emphasizes the need for specialization of the courts and the prosecution in violence against women. childhood. "This point seems critical to us. If the text does not pick it up, we will lose a very important opportunity, "he says. This is one of the petitions that children's organizations have been demanding for some time. "If we understand that when it comes to violence against women it is essential to have specialized bodies, why does not the same thing happen with childhood? They need it. One of every two cases of abuse and sexual assault in our country is suffered by a minor. There are 38,000 complaints per year for violent crimes, and they are only the tip of the iceberg because many do not report themselves, "he says.
Ricardo Ibarra, director of the Children's Platform, which brings together 66 organizations specialized in the field -between which is Save the Children-, agrees with Conde. It also requests that the integral strategy that should be developed once the law is approved is accompanied by a sufficient budget. "If so, it will be a very guaranteed text," he says. "Although we do not know the definitive articles, the drafts that we have been working with the Government for two years are in line with significantly improving the child protection model," he says.
The children's organizations consider positive the advance that the obligatory nature of the pre-constituted test for minors of 14 years and the extension of the statute of limitations for sexual crimes, although they regret that the test is not generalized for minors of 16, as they requested, and that the time for the prescription begins to run at 30 years, and not at 50, as they had also requested. The director of the Platform for Childhood declares, however, optimistic about the possibility that the prescription of these crimes can be extended during the process in the Congress of Deputies.
"For us the most important thing now is that the parliamentary procedure is urgent and that all political groups have a vision of the State, there is an important parliamentary and social consensus," says Ibarra. "Our greatest fear is that the text will not be approved in this legislature, that's why we ask for celerity to the parties, "he concludes.