16 Apr, 2023 @ 18:05
1 min read

Spain’s prime minister says sorry for new consent law that has seen sex offenders released from jail early

BREAKING NEWS: Pedro Sanchez calls early general election in Spain for July 23rd
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SPAIN’S prime minister Pedro Sanchez has used an interview with Spanish newspapers to apologise for the unexpected effects of a new consent law, which has seen convicted sex offenders either granted early release or reduced sentences since it came into force in October. 

‘I don’t think that any lawmaker, even those who voted against this law, are in favour of reducing sentences,’ he told reporters from the Vocento group, which publishes ABC among other papers. 

‘As such, I ask for forgiveness from the victims and we are going to find a solution for these undesired effects because that is the best way to defend the law itself,’ the Socialist Party leader added.

The ‘Full Guarantee of Sexual Freedom Act’ is widely known as the ‘only yes means yes’ law, given that the objective of the legislation was to place consent at the heart of sexual assault cases. 

It was drawn up by the Equality Ministry, which is run by the Socialists’ junior coalition partner Unidas Podemos. 

After it was introduced, convicted sex offenders began to use it to request sentence reductions. This was possible due to a change in definition of offences, and their associated minimum and maximum prison sentences in the case of a conviction. Minimum sentences have been lowered, in general, in the absence of aggravating circumstances.

Under Spanish law, any change to the minimum sentence for an offence can be applied retroactively, and judges usually rule in favour of the convict in such cases. 

That means that where the minimum sentence for a sexual offence has been reduced, a person serving time for the same offence can expect to spend fewer years in prison or even be released on time served. 

So far, nearly a thousand sex offenders in Spain have seen their sentences reduced, and more than 100 have been released from jail early

Unidas Podemos has defended the law and even blamed judges for not applying it properly. Initially, the party’s stance was backed by the Socialists but given the increasing political pressure and public outrage, the government has since begun the process to change the legislation in Congress


The leader of the main opposition Popular Party, Alberto Nuñez Feijoo, dismissed Sanchez’s apology as electioneering ahead of the regional and local polls due to be held on May 28. A general election is also scheduled for some time in the winter. 

‘If he really has made a mistake and is saying sorry, tomorrow he should dismiss the government and the ministers who are responsible for this legal botch job,’ Feijoo said on Sunday.

Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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