I heard/read a lot recently about the burning issue of child sexual abuse, people on the street voice their opinions about the need to increase mandatory minimum sentences, have more control, heavier penalties, basically, let the government handle the issue.
We’re all outraged when a predator engages with a child physically, psychologically, sexually, neglects it or abandons it, which constitutes the crime of Child Abuse, but alas, we do not have MANDATORY reporting on Aruba, and thus most cases are left hanging because parents/guardians chicken out.
According to a press release from POR with Marisol Lopez Tromp and Alan Howell – they are both parents to feel the pain – they already presented a law increasing mandatory sentences for serious crimes on May 21st 2018, and while the law meanders through legal channels, they would like to see it handled ASAP. They suggest a minimum of 7 years.
I solicited legal advice
1. In order to impose these minimum sentences (or any minimum sentence at all) the cases must be reported to the Public Prosecutor. Our bottle neck starts with reporting the cases. If we had mandatory reporting in place – think Hospital, nurses, doctors – we would probably be even more shocked/outraged. Because we would be exposed to the enormity of the disaster, and we would realize how common child abuse is in our community. As long as we mostly dependent on third parties (parents/guardians) reporting, we will have challenges addressing these crimes.
2. We need skilled professionals to lead the case and investigate properly, in these kinds of crimes. This is the third seated government with promises on the books, but so far ZERO experts in the field.
3. If you have mandatory minimum sentences you are only giving a judge 2 choices: Complete absolution or minimum sentence. When in doubt about the evidence you will force the judge to choose for absolution rather than locking someone up for a prolonged period of time. This will be the case specially with minors close to the consent age (16), where the defense may claim there was consent, and the abuser walks.
BOTTOM LINE: No need to rush mandatory minimum sentences in, DO SOMETHING ABOUT AWARENESS and REPORTING.
You can have all the heavy penalties on the books but if there are no reports and/or shoddy investigations it will not matter; the predators will be off the hook!
I checked in the USA: All states require certain professionals or institutions to report suspected child abuse. Those required by law to file are considered mandated reporters. These professionals can include health care providers, mental health providers, crisis counselors, school personnel, social workers, day care providers and law enforcement personnel, in some states additional professionals are now included on the list of mandated reporters: substance abuse counselors, domestic violence professionals, court-appointed special advocates, and members of the clergy.