The Cabinet Committee on Legislation (CCL), chaired by the justice minister Yvonne Dausab, has approved amendments to the Combatting of Rape Act as well as the Combatting of Domestic Violence Act.
The cabinet committee has also approved the Child Justice Bill, which will deal with juvenile or child offenders.
“As explained during previous interventions, these bills are ready for discussions in the National Assembly and the debates will start once parliament resumes in February 2021,” Dausab said.
The draft amendment bill on the Rape Act provides for the highest category of minimum sentences for the rape of persons with physical, mental disabilities or other vulnerabilities, and provides for additional duties to the prosecutor towards complainants and vulnerable witnesses before the commencement of trials.
It also aims to provide a court for a regional division, it may impose all penalties for rape to require a court shall not draw any inference only from the absence of semen or other bodily ?uids on or within the complainant, or from the absence of evidence of the rupture of the hymen to empower the court to impose conditions upon bail relating to contact necessary to protect the
Furthermore, amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act of 1977 provide for additional duties of the prosecutor towards complainants and vulnerable witnesses before the commencement of trials.
It also seeks to empower the minister responsible for justice to make regulations to provide for the protection of complainants and to impose further duties in that regard, to amend the Combating of Immoral Practices Act of 1980, and to remove the defence of marriage from sexual o?ences with a child.
The bill will amend the Correctional Services Act of 2012 to clarify that all forms of rape are scheduled o?ences and to provide for matters incidental thereto.
The Combatting of Domestic Violence Amendment Bill provides for strengthening safeguards for children who may be affected by domestic violence.
Dausab said gender-based violence against women is affected and often exacerbated by cultural, economic, ideological, technological, political, religious, social and environmental factors.
“Whilst we focus on women and girls, I implore our nation to also pay particular attention to the boys and men in our societies. Let us think about the cultural and traditional norms that shape the minds and behaviour of our boys and men in Namibia and the world. What are we teaching our boys at home? Are we present in their lives or do we leave them to themselves to grow up and be shaped by those whom they spend most of their time with on the streets?” she asked.
The amendments focus on clarifying the requirements, including provisions about custody and access in protection orders, as well as to provide for temporary maintenance orders, including protection orders to be enforced.
It further aims to amend procedural matters relating to interim protection orders, to apply the provisions for vulnerable witnesses contained in the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act No. 51 of 1977) to proceedings relating to protection orders and domestic violence offenses in terms of the Combating of Domestic Violence Act of 2003, to apply provisions of the Criminal Procedure Act of 1977, and to the production of medical records in evidence in protection order proceedings.
Dausab said the bill aims to amend the terms of protection orders to add a provision directing the respondent to take part in a counselling or treatment programme, to provide a maximum period on the exclusive occupation of a shared residence on communal land, and to provide for the issuing of emergency protection orders.
The bill will clarify provisions about custody and access in protection orders, to strengthen the safeguards for children who may be affected by domestic violence, and to provide that temporary maintenance orders included in protection orders may be treated in the same way as maintenance orders under the Maintenance Act of 2003 (Act No. 9 of 2003).