BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
Members of Parliament have called for 60-year mandatory sentences for rapists saying the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) Chapter 9:23 does not prescribe deterrent sentences.
This came out in a report tabled in the National Assembly on Thursday by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Community and Small-to-Medium Enterprises Development.
The committee recommended that rape of children and people with disabilities should attract life imprisonment.
“Raping or sodomising, especially children and persons living with disabilities, in particular where the rapist is aware that he is HIV positive should attract life imprisonment, while 60 years would be the minimum sentence for any convicted case of rape,” said committee chairperson Chido Madiwa (Zanu PF).
“The Ministry of Finance should urgently strengthen the ZRP and the whole criminal justice system, through adequate provisions of financial resources, manpower and transport facilities, in order to improve the process of receiving, investigations, and prosecution, convictions and sentencing of rape cases by end of June 2022.
“The Ministry of Home Affairs must improve the victim friendly system in the country as well as decentralise it to all provinces.
“In addition, the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs should introduce trials of rape cases in camera to protect the victims from stigma and humiliation as well as increase special jurisdiction for regional magistrates in respect of all sexual offences to address the challenge of backlogs of rape and other sexual offences cases,” Madiwa said.
“The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) Chapter 9:23 should be amended to ensure that it involves the victims in the sentencing process by making use of a victim impact statement in considering sentences as this would inform courts on the extent of harm suffered for purposes of imposing an appropriate sentence, in particular compensation of the victim.
“The Ministry of Women Affairs, Community and SMEs Development in conjunction with Ministry of Home Affairs should intensify community engagement to disseminate on how to handle rape and issues of sexual violence, as well as help with change of attitude towards reporting of all rape cases.”