After the parliament rejected the SDP’s amendments to the Penal Code, with 74 votes against, 51 in favour and two abstentions, opposition MPs stood up and turned their backs on the section of the parliament chamber where members of the parliamentary majority sit.
Before the vote, opposition MPs Sabina Glasovac (SDP), Marijana Puljak (Centar), Sandra Benčić (We Can!), Marija Selak Raspudić (Bridge) and Ružica Vukovac (Homeland Movement) called once again on the parliamentary majority not to “turn their backs on the victims” and to endorse the amendments for the sake of protection of victims of sexual violence.
“The statute of limitations on sexual violence will expire if female students, workers, housewives, all women who suffer sexual violence, fail to report it within three months,” said Glasovac.
Puljak said that the parliamentary debate had shown that all 151 deputies were agreed that the victims should be helped, asking what was the harm of amending the law now.
Benčić said that the parliamentary majority’s argument that work was underway on a new, more comprehensive law did not hold water.
“The procedure will last for the most part of the year and meanwhile the statute of limitations will expire on all cases of sexual violence about which we have been hearing in recent months,” she warned.
“As far as the victims are concerned, it would be better to adopt the amendments now than later,” said Selak Raspudić.
This is about whether we will support the victims or the abusers, said Vukovac.
HDZ MP Marija Jelkovac said that the HDZ was not against the goal of the SDP’s motion but rather did not want to change the Penal Code twice in a short period of time.
Work on amending the Penal Code is under way and the amendments will cover all demands set by the SDP as well as other changes related to improving the protection of women against sexual harassment, Jelkovac said.
The parliament unanimously adopted, with 114 votes for, a conclusion by party groups making up the parliamentary majority entrusting the government with submitting to the parliament, no later than May 31, amendments to the Penal Code that will be in line with EU regulations and ensure stronger protection of victims of sexual harassment, by introducing ex-officio prosecution of such crimes.
Bošnjaković reassures opposition MPs that SDP Proposal will be added to amendments
HDZ lawmaker and former justice minister Dražen Bošnjaković said on Friday afternoon that the SDP-sponsored motion would be incorporated later, explaining that the relevant law is organic and it is not advisable to change it too frequently.
He also underscored the fact that the cabinet of Prime Minister Andrej had introduced harsher penalties for sexual offences.
He also reassured the Opposition that he statute of limitations would not expire, as claimed by some opposition MPs.
The parliament did not support the Bridge party’s proposal to abolish the mandatory membership fee in the Croatian Chamber of Trades and Crafts.