Unicef on age of criminal liability: Problem lies in implementation of law
MANILA, Philippines — The problem is in the implementation of the law, a representative of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) told the Senate on Friday.
At the hearing of the Senate committee on justice, Unicef representative to the Philippines Lotta Sylwander insisted their stand against a bill seeking to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from the present 15 years old.
“Our stand is that the present Juvenile Justice System Welfare Law is a very solid law. The problem lies in the implementation,” she said.
“And there seems to be no accountability to actually implement it from LGUs, from DSWD, etc.,” she also said.
LGUs refer to Local Government Units while DSWD is Department of Social Welfare and Development.
Sylwander also pointed out changing the law or doing something different would not change anything “unless we are, as a collective, ready to implement it.”
Reacting to her statement, committee chair, Senator Richard Gordon, said he would send a message to all the children throughout the whole world that accountability should start with them.
“Nobody is too young to know accountability…or too old?” Gordon said.
“Of course not. But children are too young, sometimes especially below 15, to understand the consequences of their actions,” Sylwander argued.
“But they can be taught and they can be given, and should be given, a second chance in life. We don’t want to create criminals; we want to save them from being criminals,” she stressed.
Gordon explained that what he wanted to craft is a measure where no child would be considered criminal.
“But they have to be accountable at an early age,” he further said.
Sylwander noted the existing law does not say children should get away with crimes scot-free.
“But the reality is that they do get away, don’t they?” Gordon asked again.
“Because the law is not being implemented,” replied the Unicef representative. /kga
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