Adjusting criminal responsibility threshold to 12 ‘not an act of compassion’ - CHR

Adjusting criminal responsibility threshold to 12 ‘not an act of compassion’ - CHR

The Commission on Human Rights is standing firm on its stand in the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility.
At the last minute, after only two days of plenary deliberations the House of Representatives voted to approve the controversial House Bill 8858 via viva-voce voting. The House leadership were able to revised the crime liability threshold to 12 years old.
The lawmakers also agreed to change the phrase “criminal responsibility” to “social responsibility.”

Street kids in the streets of Manila (photo credit to owner)

But the CHR is still ‘deeply alarmed” that the members of the House of Representatives are still going to pursue the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility from the current 15 years old.
“Adjusting the proposed age of criminal liability from nine to 12 is not an act of compassion nor is it aligned with the government’s responsibility to uphold its obligation to protect the rights of children, including the most vulnerable and marginalized,” CHR said.
CHR urges the government to address lapses in the current law’s (Juvenile Justice Welfare Act of 2006, RA 9344) implementation, provide better support and guidance to children, and impose stricter means to curb syndicates and individuals feeding on children’s vulnerabilities instead of “shifting the burden to children.”
Under the House bill, children as young as 12 years old who commit serious crimes with discernment would be mandatorily confined at Bahay Pag-asa centers- designated youth care facilities mandated by law to offer rehabilitation and intervention to children in conflict with law.
But as per CHR, there are only 58 existing and operational Bahay Pag-asa facilities in the country.
The government’s Juvenile Justice and Welfare Council has documented that these child-caring institutions have “subhuman conditions.”

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