Statute of limitations on rape cases extended

The statute of limitations on rape cases is set to be extended allowing minors to report the crime within three years after they become adult.

A report by the Law, Justice and Human Rights Committee of the House of Representatives (HoR) proposes extending the statute of limitations on cases of sexual violence including rape. Krishna Bhakta Pokharel, chairman of the committee, has presented the report along with the bill on amending a few acts related to sexual violence in the HoR for approval.

The committee’s meeting on Friday had unanimously decided to propose extending the statute of limitations in cases of sexual violence.

The committee has extended the statute of limitations on cases of sexual violence including rape making changes to the provisions related to statute of limitations in the National Penal (Code) Act, 2017.

In its report, the committee has set the statute of limitations for reporting cases of rape or sexual abuse at three years from the time the victim completes 18 years if the victim is a minor, and at two years of the offense if the victim is an adult aged 18-70 years.

Similarly, the new provision allows senior citizens above 70 years, intellectually disabled and differently abled people to report cases within three years of the offense.

The existing statute of limitations requires that a rape case be filed within a year of the offense if the victim is an adult, and within a year of the victim completing 18 years if the victim is a minor.

The committee has also included provisions for fine along with imprisonment for the guilty in rape cases. The fine will be deposited in a relief fund for victims.

The committee in its report has proposed a fine of Rs 700,000 on the guilty if the rape victim is a minor girl aged 10-14 years or below 10 years, or a woman above 70 years, or if she is fully disabled.

Similarly, the committee has proposed fining the guilty Rs 500,000 if the victim is a girl aged 14-16 years or 16-18 years, and Rs 300,000 if the victim is a woman above 18 years.

Meanwhile, the committee’s report has removed the provision of penalizing individuals who file false complaints or make false statements in rape cases. The bill brought by the government had proposed half the minimum penalty given to the guilty for such individuals.

The bill will be sent to the National Assembly after it is passed by the HoR. It will then become a law once it is endorsed by the National Assembly within 60 days.

Calls to remove the statute of limitations on rape cases have intensified ever since a 24-year-old woman revealed through videos on social media a few months ago that she was raped in course of Miss Global International 2014, a beauty pageant, when she was 16.

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