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Statute of limitation for child abuse to be abolished

September 19th, 2014

A conservative columnist welcomes the government’s plan to amend the criminal code so that child abuse becomes prosecutable without limitation. A liberal commentator, on the other hand, fears that child abuse accusations will be increasingly misused to discredit innocent people.

Fidesz announced a plan amend the criminal code and eliminate the statute of limitation for child abuse so that child molesters may without be tried without time limitation. The decision was avowedly motivated by a widely reported case of a well-known Hungarian media personality, Pál Sipos who is been suspected of molesting children more than two decades ago as a high school teacher as well as an editor at Hungarian public Television. The case falls under the statute of limitation and the man cannot be prosecuted. According to the current legislation, child abuse cases can be prosecuted if they are reported before the victim reaches age 23. Another liberal public personality is accused by his divorced wife of having sexually abused their daughter. He denies the charge which has been widely discussed in the media, including Népszabadság.

The harm Pál Sipos caused in children he abused has not expired, Gábor Mező writes in Magyar Hírlap. The conservative columnist welcomes the government’s proposal to amend the criminal code so that child molester can be tried without limitation. As abusers often escape punishment, the elimination of the statute of limitation will increase the chance of going after paedophile criminals, Mező contends. He adds that the amendment can also help reduce child abuse, since the harsher regulation may frighten away potential abusers from criminal acts. Taken all this together Mező believes that the reasonability of the government’s proposal is beyond doubt.

In Népszabadság, Sándor Révész cautions against eliminating the statute of limitation. The liberal pundit acknowledges that in Hungary, only a small percentage of child abuses are identified and prosecuted. At the same time, it is very easy to misuse child abuse and accuse innocent people of committing “the most abhorrent crime”. Even an investigation which does not result in an actual accusation is a huge blow for anyone’s fair name and credit, Révész warns. If child abuse can be prosecuted without limitation, such accusations can easily be misused to blackmail or discredit people, Révész concludes.

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