Proposed legislation in Philippines may put children at greater risk of torture24-07-2012
Proposed changes to lower the age of criminal responsibility in the Philippines will only put children at great risk of torture or other cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The IRCT wishes to express its deep concern over the proposed legislative changes to the Juvenile Justice Law in the Philippines and echo the sentiments of member Balay Rehabilitation Center, based in Quezon City.
“Children are more likely the victims than the perpetrators of violence,” Balay explains in a public statement opposing the changes.
The amendment to the 2006 Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act would lower the age of criminal responsibility – the age in which children can be deemed criminally responsible for their behaviour – to 12. This is in direct contravention of the recommendation from the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, which has urged states to set the age of criminal responsibility at 14 to 16 in order to contribute to a juvenile justice system that is in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Lowering the age of criminal responsibility will only mean more children will be deprived of their liberty. This occurs in juvenile homes and centres, but, a likely consequence of this is that children will be detained in prisons with adults, putting them at severe risk of maltreatment and abuse. This is due to an already existing lack of capacity and juvenile homes and other means of diversion to child friendly facilities in the Philippines.
Furthermore, according to a soon-to-be-released report by the IRCT, children are most at-risk of torture in detention facilities.
Lowering the age of criminal responsibility is not the answer to the problem of juvenile criminality; we need to address the underlying socio-economic problems that force children to come into conflict with the law – poverty, hunger, illegal drug trade and lack of educational opportunities, Balay states.
Instead of amending it, the Philippines needs to fully implement the Juvenile Justice Law to protect children in conflict with the law from further abuse and maltreatment.
For more information:
Please read Balay’s public statement on the amendments here.