The IJJO, together with the rest of the NGOs composing the Child Justice Advocacy Group -Terre des hommes (Tdh), Penal Reform International (PRI), Defence for Children International (DCI),Child Rights Information Network (CRIN) , World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), International Association of Youth and Family Judges and Magistrates (AIMJF), Vivere, International Catholic Child Bureau (BICE)-, issued a Joint Statement asking the Philippines to refrain from lowering the minimum age of criminal responsibility from fifteen to nine years.
As widely reported, the human rights situation in the Philippines is alarming right now, in particular in respect to two bills on their way; one is meant to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 9 years old and the other one aims to introduce the death penalty.
The Joint Statement was formally presented this week to 20 members of the Philippine House of Representatives in charge of the debate and adoption of the bills. The aim is to recall the Philippines’s commitment, under respect for the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Statement makes clear that allowing children so young to be held criminally responsible will not achieve the aims claimed by supporters of the bill and ignores the 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. Considering that the final objective of juvenile justice has to be the reintegration and inclusion of the child into society.
With this Statement, the Child Justice Advocacy Group has added its voice to the growing condemnation of the proposed reforms, including from the Committee Against Torture, UNICEF and a growing group of civil society organisations and justice experts.
The bill on the lowering of minimum age of criminal responsibility will be scheduled for approval in the first reading next week, as the international campaign against the bill intensifies.