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UNICEF Philippines slams move to lower age of criminal liability

By: - Social Media Specialist / @CarloMolinaINQ
/ 11:07 AM January 22, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — A humanitarian organization has slammed the passage of a bill at the House of Representatives that seeks to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility, saying  the move will not discourage adult offenders from abusing children to commit crimes.

Despite strong objections from several human rights groups, the House committee on justice approved on Monday the bill that lowers the age of criminal responsibility from 15 years old to 9 years old.

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In a series of tweets, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Philippines said there is lack of evidence and data showing that children are responsible for the increase in crime rates committed in the country.

If lowering the age of criminal responsibility to 9 years old is meant to protect children, what’s going to stop syndicates from exploiting even younger children?,” the organization wrote with the hashtags #ChildrenNotCriminals, #NoToLoweringOfMACR, #NoToLoweringMACR, and #TulongHindiKulong.

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UNICEF Philippines said brain function reaches maturity only at around 16 years old according to neuroscience and child development studies.

“Kapag ibinaba ang edad ng criminal responsibility sa 9, parang naniniwala na rin tayo na ang batang 9 years old ay katulad na ang isang 18 years old na kayang magdesisyon kung sino ang iboboto niya, kailan siya ikakasal o pumirma sa kahit anong kontrata,” the UNICEF Philippines said.

The organization also argued that lowering the age of criminal responsibility fails to address the root causes of social problems such as poverty, lack of parenting support programs, access to education and other social services.

“Branding children as ‘criminals’ removes accountability from adults who are responsible for safeguarding them,” it said.

“If we fail to understand the underlying reasons how and why children commit crimes, we, as adults, fail our children,” it added.

Instead of lowering the age of criminal responsibility, UNICEF Philippines called on government to support and implement the existing Republic Act 9344 or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare act of 2006.

May batas na tayo para sa mga children in conflict with the law: ang Juvenile Justice & Welfare Act (RA 9344). Ngunit hindi ito nabibigyan ng tamang pondo at suporta para sa tamang implementation nito sa buong bansa,” it urged.   /muf

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TAGS: age of criminal responsibility, Children, House committee on Justice, UNICEF Philippines
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