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Belgium: Parliament Votes to Remove Statute of Limitations for Sexual Crimes Against Minors

(Dec. 19, 2019) On November 28, 2019, the Belgian Chamber of Representatives adopted a bill to remove the statute of limitations for “serious sexual crimes committed against minors” (délits sexuels graves commis sur des mineurs). Under articles 21 and 21bis of the current version of the Belgian Code of Criminal Procedure, the statute of limitations for rape and indecent assault (attentat à la pudeur) against a minor is 15 years from the victim’s 18th birthday. The recently adopted bill will eliminate the statute of limitations for those crimes, to make them prosecutable indefinitely.

This bill was adopted by the Chamber of Representatives under a monocameral procedure, a process under article 74 of the Belgian Constitution that allows legislation on certain subjects to be adopted by the Chamber of Representatives only, without Senate involvement. A first version of the bill was adopted on November 14, 2019, but the legislators subsequently realized that a clerical error in the adopted text would have resulted in a reduction of the statute of limitations for certain sexual crimes committed against adults, from 15 years to 10.  A corrective bill was submitted shortly afterwards, and was adopted on November 28.

The bill will become law after it is signed by the King of Belgium, as required by article 109 of the constitution.

Updated December 20, 2019