Philippines must not lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility

24 January 2019

CRIN calls for the Philippines to abandon its latest proposals to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility and instead focus on reforms that will effectively address crime.

The House of Representatives and Senate are rushing through legislation that will do lasting damage to children and society at large. These proposals will serve to criminalise more children, increase reoffending and do nothing to address the underlying reasons that children become involved in crime.

Allowing younger children to be held criminally responsible ignores evidence of what effectively reduces crime among children: diverting them from the criminal justice system, avoiding detention and focusing on measures such as restorative justice. This is a reform that can only serve to draw more children into the criminal justice system.

It also flies in the face of internationally-agreed best practice. The UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child agreed more than a decade ago that States must “not to lower their MACR”, but should instead raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to protect children’s rights.

As the legislature considers and votes on these reforms, it has the opportunity to reject regressive measures that will do nothing to reduce crime committed by children and instead commit itself to reforms that respect children’s rights and will actually solve the problem.