24 February 2017

Angola: Opposition Calls for Referendum On Abortion

Luanda — Angolan opposition parliamentary groups on Thursday underscored the relevance of the draft law approved by the General Penal Code, but UNITA considered it essential to hold a referendum on a better integration of issues related abortion.

This aspect has centered the debate between MPLA and the opposition MPs around this legal instrument that replaces the Penal Code in force since 1886, during the 4th Extraordinary Plenary Meeting of the 5th Legislative Session of the 3rd Legislature.

In light of the text, abortion is prohibited and constitutes a crime punishable by a sentence of 4 to 10 years in prison.

However, it establishes causes of exclusion of illegality (exceptional cause that removes the anti-legal character of a conduct seen as criminal), when the life of the mother is at risk or there is some other situation related to the physical integrity of the mother herself.

To Mihaela Webba (UNITA), the new Penal Code is very modern. However, she disagreed with the grounds put forward for permitting abortion "in case of violation, subnormality and protection of the mother's health".

For this reason, she suggested the withdrawal of this chapter (abortion) from the Bill, to be considered in the form of a referendum (practice of proposing to the electorate, for approval or rejection, measures proposed or approved by a legislative body).

The same position was underlined in the UNITA Parliamentary Group Vote Statement, which abstained, along with CASA-CE and PRS. The MPLA and the representation of the FNLA voted in favor.

In this regard, the head of the Parliamentary Group of CASA-CE, André Mendes de Carvalho, said that the issue of abortion should be deepened in the specialty and suggested that the specialized committees should decide on the pertinence of the referendum.

To him, the Bill that approves the Penal Code is the most important legal tool to be adopted in the present legislature, hence suggesting an appropriate discussion in the specialty.

He called for the discussion of the legal tool "with new and not archaic minds" and asked for greater clarity in the language, regarding the issue of maximum penalty.

The text provides for a maximum sentence of 25 years, which may reach 30 years, due to the punishment of recidivism and the concurrence of crimes or as a result of extending the sentence.

On his turn, the head of FNLA representation in the Parliament, Lucas Ngonda, said that this is an important proposal of legal tool, drafted 41 years after the national independence.

According to him, it is important to continue to replace the "obsolete norms" in Angola, emphasizing that the country judged citizens with inappropriate standards inspired by a model of justice alien to the African reality.

To head of the PRS Parliamentary Group, Benedito Daniel, welcomed the initiative of the proponent of the proposal and said that Angola needs this text, because it was incomprehensible that the country used a Penal Code that even Portugal uses no more.

Benedito Daniel stated in what the current Penal Code penalties are out of time and space, hence he expects that the new is truly Angolan and guarantees the citizens' rights.

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