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Revoking of new Penal Code reflects institutional chaos

In an analysis of the Constitutional Tribunal’s decision to revoke the Penal Code that was passed a year ago, commentator Juan Bolivar Diaz says this action is just a new confirmation of the institutional chaos that prevails in the country with the focus on the Judicial Branch that is subordinate to a circumstantial and political group’s private interests. He expresses regret that the Penal Code that had been passed, the fruit of 20 years of discussions, and that would have replaced a 130-year old code, was a victim of politics. He observes that it is unlikely it will return to Congress until after the elections the because of the controversial abortion articles.

“The government has not found a gap to put behind the scandal that affects the judiciary, when it is affirmed that the National Congress and the Executive Branch passed a Penal Code without the definitive approval of the Senate, in flagrant violation of the Constitution, despite timely warnings,” he writes.

He comments that the court could have annulled the controversial four articles that allowed for abortion in select extreme cases and kept the other 391 of 395 articles of a complex document that derogates 47 laws, a decree-law, an executive order and a resolution issued over 130 years, from 1884 to 2014. The abortion clauses would de-penalize abortion in cases where the woman’s life is in danger, fetal malformations that are incompatible with life, or rape or incest.

Diaz said the violations of the procedures began soon after President Danilo Medina vetoed the bill and returned it to the Chamber of Deputies. He says that the first time was when the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Abel Martinez (National District PLD) did not submit the observed Penal Code to a vote by the deputies, but with amendments he incorporated, passing above the Justice Commission that should have studied the presidential observations. The bill was then approved by the PLD majority deputies by simple majority, when the original bill had been approved with the requirement of two thirds of the votes.

Diaz says what was even more absurd was that Martinez then returned the bill to the Presidency, stating that it did not have to return to the Senate, despite the amendments made in the Chamber of Deputies. This was a clear violation of articles 76 and 93 of the Constitution, which establishes that both chambers need to study the observations made by the Executive Branch to laws.

Diaz says that what was even worse was that despite the warnings already being issued by legislators, constitutional experts and institutions, the Executive Branch signed the bill into law, without senatorial approval, on 19 December 2014. In an interview on Friday, 4 December 2015, Presidential legal advisor Cesar Pina Toribio said that the annulment of the code was a situation that would have been expected. He said that the President was aware but had left the decision to the Constitutional Tribunal.

Diaz said that the reason for the irregular procedures could be found in the internal struggle between the two factions in the PLD n one led by President Danilo Medina and the other led by former President Leonel Fernandez. He said that the Fernandez camp, which includes Chamber of Deputies president Martinez, sought to portray Medina as a sponsor of abortion to the Catholic Church extremists. With the irregular approval method chosen, they knew the Constitutional Tribunal would revoke the law.

Source: DR1, Hoy

Dec 7, 2015

Category: DR News |

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