MAPUTO, The Human Rights Commission of the Mozambican Bar Association (OAM) has called for tougher penalties to be imposed in cases of domestic violence.

The commission, in a statement here, strongly condemns “the macabre acts of domestic violence that have been taking place in our country on an alarming scale, resulting in loss of life, serious mutilation of the victims, a negative impact on their children and other relatives, and the destruction of families and of the social fabric”.

The penalties for domestic violence, the OAM Commission argues, are too light. Under the current Penal Code, the longest prison term for a crime of domestic violence is eight years, and most offenders receive terms of less than two years, which are then converted into crimes or community service.

Much more serious penalties are handed down in cases of crimes against property, where the culprit is sometimes sentenced to more than 12 years imprisonment, the statement notes.

“This seems to us incoherent, since the lives and the physical and mental health of citizens should enjoy greater protection than that given to property,” the commission says.

At a time when the most fundamental rights of citizens, such as the right to life and to physical integrity, are being violated, the country’s parliament, the Assembly of the Republic “should reflect on a just penalty for the crime of domestic violence, and should not be afraid to legislate for the good of the people and the country”, the statement says.

The commission adds that the government should comply fully with its obligations under the international conventions ratified by the Mozambican state, and should work with civil society organizations “to adopt a joint strategy to fight against any forms of violence”.

The commission also urged the government to endow the Family Care Offices of the Mozambican police “with the capacity to deal with crimes of domestic violence in such a way that the victims are treated with dignity and humanity, and the cases are duly channeled to the courts”.