Photo: Freepik

Majority of Rape Convictions From 2016-22 Received Suspended Sentences

A total of 643 people were sentenced for rape in the Czech Republic from 2016 to the end of 2022, according to data from the jaktrestrame.cz app, with 46% receiving suspended sentences and 11% suspended sentences with probation. In 40% the courts imposed prison sentences. 

The data is based on information from the Ministry of Justice. Those behind the app warn that the numbers alone should not be used to simply criticise sentencing, as the app does not take into account the details of individual cases.

For crimes including forcing intercourse, rape of a child over the age of 15, or rape with a weapon, courts imposed probation or supervised probation as the main punishment in 66% of cases, and a prison sentence in 33%.

For offences committed by an offender who, for example, rapes a child under the age of 15 or causes serious bodily harm to the victim, probation or supervised probation was imposed in 24% of cases, and prison sentences in 74%. The figures do not include concurrent offences, ie. those in which the offender committed more than one offence before being convicted of any of them by a final judgement.

In recent days, there has been a public outcry over a case of long-term repeated rape of a minor by her stepfather, for which the offender received a suspended sentence. According to Novinky.cz, the first instance court originally sentenced the girl’s stepfather to three years in prison for rape and child pornography charges. However, the appeals panel of the Regional Court in Brno upheld the man’s appeal and reduced the verdict to a three-year suspended sentence with five-year probation. The court referred, among other things, to an expert opinion that the man’s actions did not have a significant negative impact on the girl.

However, one of the authors of the expert opinion has disputed this, according to Respekt.cz.

The abused girl herself told Seznam Zpravy that she has long struggled with psychological problems and had to be hospitalized in a psychiatric ward after the verdict following a suicide attempt. The Pod Svicnem NGO has been in contact with the girl and has also arranged a fundraising campaign, which has raised more than CZK 4.9 million.

The Supreme State Prosecutor’s Office has taken up the case on its own initiative, but is awaiting a written decision from the Court of Appeal. The case is also being examined by the Ministry of Justice, which is reviewing whether the law has been violated.

The Judges’ Union said in a press release that it was ready to participate in the debate over the sentencing system in the Czech Republic, and said judges were aware of the seriousness of the consequences of rape on the lives of victims. It referred to a study by the Legal Data Hub project, which found that the penalties imposed for rape in the Czech Republic are the second most severe, after those imposed for murder.

The Judges’ Union has not commented on the specific case in Brno, citing both the lack of a copy of the verdict, and also the judge’s code of ethics, which prohibits commenting on and evaluating the decisions of colleagues. However, the union condemned the “crude attacks” on the particular judge whose appellate panel had ruled on the case.

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