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14.06.2007 General News

Parliament passes Criminal Code (Amendment) Bill


Parliament has passed the Criminal Code (Amendment) Bill into law, after taking it through the Third Reading.

The bill yet to receive Presidential assent before becoming operational, seeks to amend the Criminal Code to change the reference Female Circumcision to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

It also seeks to widen the scope of the actual nature of the offence and alter the scope of responsibility to include all other accomplices to FGM practice.

The passage of the bill had been preceded by lengthy and vigorous debate following disagreements over whether to deal humanely or otherwise with practitioners of FGM.

The question on how to deal with practitioners took centre stage with divisions over what was a suitable jail sentence for offenders.

Some members called for a minimum of five and maximum of 10 years jail sentence for offenders, while others said the degrading cultural practice could result in death and proposed a minimum of 10 years and maximum of 25 years to deter practitioners and accomplices of FGM.

Kofi Osei-Ameyaw, Chairman of Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Committee moved an amendment proposing that four years jail sentence be deleted and substituted with 10 years as minimum sentence and 10 years be replaced with 25, as maximum sentence for the offence under the Criminal Code (Amendment) Bill.

Haruna Iddrisu, (NDC-Tamale South) disagreed and moved a counter amendment for a minimum of five and maximum of 10 years, saying countries were moving from custodial sentences.

In addition, he said there was the need to focus on reformation of offenders, therefore the 10-25 years sentence was too violent.

Other members who contributed could not agree on the best punishment and this ended in long and vigorous voice vote, with majority supporting a humane sentence of five years minimum sentence and 10 years maximum sentence.

Source: GNA