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Government refuses to lower age of criminal responsibility from 14 to 12
CHILD offenders under the age of 14 will not face prison sentences, the central government has informed.
At a meeting yesterday, the minister of justice, Francisco Camaño, stressed that he was against lowering the age of criminal responsibility from 14 to 12.
The issue was raised when two young girls were gang-raped by a group of 12- and 13-year-olds in Andalucía in July.
“The answer to the problem does not lie in reducing the criminally-liable age, becaue 14 years is the average in democratic countries and it is considered that, below this age, whoever commits a crime and however reproachable that crime, at the end of the day is still a child.”
This does not mean the child will be immune to punishment, stated the minister.
“What the current law is saying is that this child is not within the criminal system, but that’s because not everything can be rectified with a custodial sentence.
“The solution is not always putting people in jail.
“There are different solutions, and the current law provides for specific treatments, such as special monitoring and education.
“We believe that this solution continues to be better in this day and age than depriving under-14s of their freedom.”
This situation differs sharply from that of the UK, where children as young as 10 can be judged in possession of the necessary mens rea.
A classic example of this included the 10-year-old boys who tortured and murdered toddler Jamie Bulger, and who served sentences in a youth detention centre (such as the one pictured) until the age of 18.
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