In 1989, world leaders made a historic commitment to the world’s children by adopting the UNCRC. Thirty years later, 196 countries have become signatories to the most widely ratified human rights treaty, which clearly illustrates the universal character of the norms, values and principles of the rights of the child.
Edd Gumban
‘Lowering minimum age of criminal responsibility undermines PH's child-sensitive systems’
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - June 4, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines can be proud of the Juvenile Justice Law and its child-friendly laws and policies, but recent moves to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) to 12 would undermine the gains in setting up a restorative and child-sensitive system, the United Nations’ children’s agency said yesterday as the world commemorates the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child this year.

In 1989, world leaders made a historic commitment to the world’s children by adopting the UNCRC. Thirty years later, 196 countries have become signatories to the most widely ratified human rights treaty, which clearly illustrates the universal character of the norms, values and principles of the rights of the child.

On June 3, 1989, the Philippines signed the UNCRC and became one of the first countries to sign the treaty.

The Philippines, as a State Party to the Convention, committed to develop and implement a comprehensive juvenile justice policy, which came in the form of the 2006 Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (JJWA), seen as an example of good legislation by the international community.

“As the world celebrates the 30th Anniversary of the Convention, the Philippines has reasons to celebrate with pride. Child-friendly laws and policies introduced over the years reflect the commitment to protect children against all forms of violence and harm, and to nurture them in every stage of their life,” the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a statement.

The UN commended the Philippines for having set the MACR at 15 in the JJWA, which aims to address erring children through rehabilitation and restoration rather than imprisonment.

“However, recent suggestions to lower the MACR to 12 would undermine the gains in setting up a restorative, child-sensitive system that seeks not to detain children but to reintegrate them back to society without criminalizing them,” the UNICEF said.

“Retaining the MACR at 15 years would show leadership and commitment to children and put the Philippines at par with countries leading on this issue around the world,” it added.

The UNCRC has commended countries, including the Philippines, for having a high minimum age of criminal responsibility. The committee has pointed out in its authoritative interpretations that state parties should not reduce the MACR if its current penal law set the minimum age higher than 14 years.

Retaining the MACR, according to the UNICEF, would also appear to stand in unity with a majority of Filipinos who are in favor of the MACR remaining at 15, according to the latest Social Weather Stations national survey and many other stakeholders engaged in the current debates.

“On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the United Nations joins the Philippines in celebrating the successes and gains in fulfilling children’s rights, in the implementation of the JJWA and we hope in refraining from lowering the MACR,” the agency said.

The UNICEF urged the Philippines to fully and effectively implement the JJWA and reject the proposal to lower the MACR as the agency pointed to efforts to undermine the impact of the law for rehabilitation and restoration rather than punishment of children.

The UNICEF made the urgent call on the 13th anniversary of the JJWA and reiterated its commitment to promote the rights of all children, including children in conflict with the law and children-at-risk.

Senate Bill 2026 attempts to lower the age of criminal responsibility to 12 and allow children to be placed in a closed youth facility from the age of nine.

The bill argues that lowering the age of criminal responsibility will curb criminality and stop adults from using children in criminal activities but the UNICEF said “this is a flawed argument.”

UNICEF added that the proposal to lower the age of criminal liability to 12 years old is a “giant leap backward.”

JUVENILE JUSTICE LAW MINIMUM AGE OF CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY
Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

FORGOT PASSWORD?
SIGN IN
or sign in with