World Vision calls to stop the lowering of minimum age of criminal responsibility
Child-focused agency World Vision is one with other like-minded advocates and groups to stop the approval of the current House bill which attempts to lower the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility (MACR) from 15 to as low as 9 years old.
“We humbly call all our concerned lawmakers to set aside their differences on this one, and stay partial only for the well-being and rights of children, especially those as young as nine years old,” appeals World Vision executive director Rommel V. Fuerte. “Instead, let us please strengthen and improve the implementation of the current Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (JJWA) which promotes less punitive and more restorative interventions for children in conflict with the law.”
Based on the proposed law, child offenders aged 9 and above, will be subjected and housed to a closed youth facility as one of the state’s measure. Lowering the age of criminal responsibility, as argued by the bill, will also deter adult criminals to exploit children in committing crimes.
“Exploited children who are lured or forced by poverty to commit crimes should not be penalized,” asserts Fuerte. “Criminalizing them would surely stigmatize the child and the impact could possibly be irreversible. They should rather be protected and rehabilitated with child-friendly and corrective interventions lent by the JJWA.”
According to research by the Justice Policy Institute cited in the concerted statement by the Child Rights Network, detaining or incarcerating children is more damaging than beneficial. It has a profoundly negative impact on young people’s mental and physical well-being, their education and future employment. Detention may also increase the likelihood that young people will return to old behaviors compromising public safety.
This move simply undermines the best interest of the child and will not solve the problem of children committing crimes. More so, it diverts the issue from the usual causes of why children fall into committing crimes — poor parenting and supervision, peer pressure, and unhealthy social environment among others. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking as the House of Representatives’ Committee on Justice will convene on Monday (January 21) to review and approve the Substitute Bill.
Child advocacy groups including World Vision call on concerned lawmakers and leaders to uphold and protect the children’s rights by not lowering further the age of criminal responsibility, and instead strengthen the implementation of the current Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act which promotes more appropriate and intentional restorative justice. Let us be a unified nation, partial only for the best interest of children. We are #oneforchildren. STOP the lowering of MACR because they are #ChildrenNotCriminals.
World Vision Development Foundation, Inc. Spokesperson/s:
Rommel V. Fuerte, Executive Director
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Published January 18, 2019
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