The minimum age of criminal responsibility

CRIN has long been pushing for a debate around juvenile justice that moves beyond pragmatism and compromise. In particular, we want to provoke a debate about the setting of minimum ages of criminal responsibility. We support those who believe the way forward is to separate the concept of responsibility from that of criminalisation - to stop criminalising children. This debate isn’t possible without understanding what “the minimum age of criminal responsibility” means around the world.

In its basic sense, the minimum age of criminal responsibility is a simple concept: the age at which a person can be charged with a criminal offence and processed within the criminal justice system. In practice, though, the many features of a national legal system interact to determine this age and comparative information on the minimum age of criminal responsibility can be misleading when it applies a figure without explaining the criminal justice system that lies beneath.

To inform that debate, CRIN has compiled information on minimum ages of criminal responsibility around the world, which you can explore using this interactive map. You can also find full details of the corresponding legislation through our website.

If you are aware of any inaccuracies or reforms underway to amend relevant laws, please contact us.