Haiti: Rights Group Seeks Broad Support to Change Definition of Rape in Draft Penal Code
Saturday, June 17, 2017 2:25 PM

On September 12, 2016, the Haitian Minister of Justice announced the formation of a commission to reform the country’s Penal Code. While human rights organizations applaud many of the reforms proposed by the commission, the draft Code’s section on sexual assault contains a controversial definition of “consent.” As it stands, the proposed Code states, “Sexual assault is any sexual offense committed against a person without his or her consent, with violence, coercion, threat or surprise.” Human rights advocates are pushing for the removal of the last six words of that definition, saying that it excludes some forms of rape and puts a “heightened burden” of proof on victims seeking justice.

MADRE, an international women’s human rights organization, reports that the Haitian Senate will soon consider the proposed changes to Haiti’s Penal Code, including the section on sexual assault. MADRE is requesting that interested organizations join them in signing a letter to the Haitian Senate, asking the Justice Commission of the Senate to change the definition of “consent” to comply with accepted international standards. The Advocates for Human Rights has signed the letter and urges the Haitian Senate to make the requested change.

The deadline for organizations to sign the letter is July 1, 2017. The letter is available in both English and French.

Compiled from: MADRE, Haiti Draft Penal Code Legislation, Letter to Haitian Senate (June 14, 2017); NH, M, Commission Set to Reform Haitian Criminal Law, Haiti Sentinel (September 14, 2016).