SANTIAGO – Chilean President Sebastian Piñera on Thursday presented a bill aimed at eliminating the statute of limitations on prosecution of sexual offenses against minors.
Speaking at the presidential palace, he pointed out that under current law, the statute of limitations for such crimes is 10 years.
Piñera invoked the recent high-profile cases of Ambar, a 2-year-old girl who died of injuries received while being raped by a family member; and Sophie, a child of 23 months who passed away due to abuse by her father.
“There is no crime more deplorable, more cowardly – against the life, the innocence of our children – than sex abuse,” the president said. “It not only harms their body, it also leaves deep wounds in their soul, as well as painful marks.”
Joining Piñera at La Moneda palace for the presentation of the bill were lawmakers from across the political spectrum who have advocated for children’s rights.
Also in attendance was James Hamilton, just back from Rome, where he and two other men who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of Chilean priest Fernando Karadima met with Pope Francis.
Hamilton described Piñera’s proposal as “wonderful for the country.”
“From the moment that there is a special concern about children we are very hopeful in all areas,” he said, urging legislators to “vote with hand on heart for the children.”
In Rome, Pope Francis personally apologized to Karadima’s victims on behalf of the Catholic Church during a discussion that also addressed the actions of Chilean bishops to cover up the priest’s crimes.