Dr Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (30 January) on a parliamentary vote in the Philippines that could lead to the age of criminal responsibility being lowered:
I am following the bill in the Philippines on lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 12 years of age with concern. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child explicitly and rightfully recommends a higher minimum age. As a state party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Philippines would take a significant step backwards by adopting this new legislation.
When children commit acts of violence or other serious crimes, they are always victims themselves as a result of psychological stress or malicious manipulation. Punishment does not bring about improvement, but instead heightens social problems further. I thus call on the legislators in Manila to overturn this parliamentary vote which would have serious consequences.
On 28 January, the House of Representatives of the Philippines approved draft legislation that would reduce the age of criminal responsibility from the current 15 to 12 years of age. As the country has a bicameral system, the Senate would first need to approve the bill before it can be implemented in law.
Since taking office in July 2016, the current President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has been calling for the age of criminal responsibility to be lowered. Various bills have been introduced and stopped since then.