Spanish PM Pedro Sánchez under fire over release of sex offenders

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Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is embroiled in a political storm after a sexual consent law introduced by his government led to the early release of a sex offender from prison.

sanchez The law was widely hailed as trying to stop victims from being pressured to consent in court. However, the law unexpectedly reduced prison sentences for some dangerous criminals, sparking public outrage.

Sanchez’s ability to respond is limited by his coalition partner, the radical left Podemos Group. Podemos regards the law as one of the minister’s key achievements and resists drastic change.

With shorter sentences, the law is held accountable. sanchez Earlier in the election year when he was seeking his next term, he fueled attacks from right-wing critics who accused him of undermining the rule of law. said his sentence was commuted.

On Monday, Sánchez’s socialist minister, Felix Bolanhos, made the clearest sign yet that the prime minister is ready to support the amendments. “I want to fix [law] I don’t want to repeat this to mitigate the unwanted effects it has created,” he said.

But PodemosSanchez needs that vote to pass the bill in Congress.

The Consent Act was introduced following a nationwide scandal over the lenient sentences handed down to five men who raped an 18-year-old woman during a bull run in Pamplona in 2016.

A lower court found her guilty of misdemeanor sexual abuse, which did not involve violence or intimidation, after defense attorneys argued the woman had consented. . Ultimately, Spain’s Supreme Court overturned the ruling, ruling that the man had committed rape, and extended the sentence from nine to 15 years.

The new law states that sexual consent must be clearly communicated and cannot be assumed if the victim remains silent. Gone is the former distinction between sexual assault, which is a serious crime.

While this resulted in harsher sentences for many crimes, reclassifying crimes also opened the door for some courts to rule that certain existing sentences should be commuted. opened. This has led to the release of dozens of criminals from prison because they have already served the required period of time.

Irene Montero, Spain’s Minister of Equality and member of Podemos, the driving force behind the law, said the judges who made these decisions were “one of the most important public policy advances in feminism in the last two decades.” said it was part of a “right-wing attack on

Officials in Podemos said they would not accept any amendments that would take Spain back to an era when women had to prove they resisted being considered victims of sexual assault.

Podemos parliamentary spokesman Pablo Echenik said on Twitter that the Justice Department and the opposition PP, led by Sanchez supporters, “want to go back to the previous model of asking victims, ‘Did you keep your legs firmly closed? How much have you been drinking? Did you hit him and risk your life? “

The conservative PP is trying to focus its attention on releasing sex offenders, and campaign spokesperson Borja Sémper said on Sunday that Sanchez “didn’t want to confront Podemos.”

PP has offered to vote with socialists (and supporting Podemos) on a bill to amend the new law. However, government spokesperson Isabel Rodriguez said it was “hardly imaginable” that PP would agree to anything.

“We have been waiting for them many times through this Congress and have been faced with a ‘no’ for an answer,” she said. Opportunism.”

Antonio Barosso, deputy director of research at consulting firm Teneo Intelligence, said the unrest was unlikely to collapse the coalition. “Generally, Podemos opens up a front for Sanchez that creates problems and tensions,” he said. “So it’s noisy. But in the end, the coalition doesn’t fall apart.”

The prime minister wants to keep an eye on Spain’s economic performance, Barroso said, acknowledging that the country has low inflation compared to EU countries and low unemployment by its own standards. “Spain is in a relatively good place economically. He wants to talk about it. Social issues aren’t very good for him.”

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