SPAIN approves pioneering child protection law which extends the statute of limitations for crimes against children
Spain’s lower house of parliament has taken another step forward on Thursday, April 17 in approving the pioneering new legislation which aims to better protect children and adolescents in Spain, with 268 votes in favour, 57 against and 16 abstentions. The Social Rights Commission of the Congress of Deputies approved a draft bill of the groundbreaking Rhodes Law on Wednesday, April 7, and it will next pass to the Senate for final approval. It is hoped that the new legislation will be published in the Official State Gazette (BOE) by June.
Lucai Munoz of the Unidas Podemos party said on Thursday that the approval of the law puts Spain at the forefront of the protection and promotion of the rights of children.
“We could become a benchmark for the world,” she said, as reported by Spanish daily El Pais.
Driven by the Department of Social Rights, the new legislature, will extend the statute of limitations on serious crimes against minors until they are 30 years of age, whereas it currently runs out when they turn 18. Additionally, the law will prohibit the hiring of anyone who has been previously convicted of abusing a minor to jobs dealing with children, such as schools and leisure centres.
A specific article is included to prevent parents gaining joint custody of a child in a family environment where gender violence has been observed, and a comprehensive care package will be provided for children who have been subject to violent crimes of a sexual or gender-based nature.
Specialist units within the authorities will be developed to deal with victims of abuse and dedicated training will be provided to judges and prosecutors. One of the major changes will be the removal of the use of the so-called Parental Alienation Syndrome (SAP), which has long been accused of allowing undue parental influence over abuse cases.
Guarantees will also be strengthened so that minors can participate in legal proceedings; a judge will therefore be prevented from rejecting the testimony of a minor “due to lack of maturity,” according to Spanish daily 20 minutos.