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Cabinet sets conditions for child abuse law

Cabinet has proposed terms for the removal of the statute of limitations for sex crimes involving child victims. Parliament will have the final say.

This content was published on June 22, 2011 - 16:10
swissinfo.ch and agencies

The move is in response to a November 2008 vote when 52 per cent of voters accepted a people’s initiative to remove the prosecution time limit against paedophile criminals.

Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said the government decided to increase the age limit for victims from 10 to 12 following recommendations by doctors’ organisations. The cabinet also defined the nature of the sexual crimes covered.

However, lifelong prosecution exception will not apply to people to possess or sell child pornography.

The cabinet wants the new regulations to be retroactive only for crimes where the statute of limitations did not apply by November 2008 – the date of the nationwide vote.

Under the current law a person suspected of a paedophile crime can be prosecuted for up to 15 years after the crime, or until the victim turns 25. This provision will continue to apply in cases where the accused was a minor at the time of an alleged offence.

To date only perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and terrorist acts are subject to lifelong prosecution in Switzerland.

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