A TOTAL OF 129 convicted sex offenders have now benefitted from the Spanish government’s ‘only yes means yes’ law, which was aimed at putting consent at the heart of sexual assault cases but has had the unexpected effect of reducing jail terms for some convicts.

According to figures compiled by news agency Europa Press, a total of 17 people have actually been freed from prison thanks to the law change, while 129 sentences in total have been revised downward.

The latest seven cases were reported last Friday, and were passed down by the Supreme Court, and in the regional justice systems of Valencia, La Rioja and the Basque Country. 

The new law unified the offences of sexual assault and sexual abuse, and included changes to the maximum and minimum jail terms for offences depending on aggravating circumstances. 

Under Spanish law, when a minimum jail sentence is reduced it can be retroactively applied to an existing sentence. It is this loophole in the law that is being used by sex offenders to either reduce their jail terms, or if applicable seek release from custody on the basis of time served. 

The legislation was drafted by the Equality Ministry, which is in the hands of the junior partner in Spain’s coalition government, leftist Unidas Podemos.

Political ammunition

The unexpected effect of the legislation has proved hugely controversial, and has given the political opposition ammunition with which to attack the Socialist-led government. 

The conservative Popular Party (PP), for example, ran a campaign to coincide with Spain’s world-famous Christmas lottery. In it, the main opposition group charged that ‘sex offenders had already won the lottery’ this year thanks to the law change. 

Sources consulted by Europa Press stated that more sex offenders’ sentences are likely to be reduced in the coming days, as pending cases are cleared by the courts.

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