Kids under 12 penalty-exempt
The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to accept a bill seeking to amend the Criminal Code to exempt children aged below 12 from legal punishment for committing offences.
Lawmakers accepted the bill with a vote of 282-0, with one abstention. A 39-member committee was set up to vet the bill.
The bill which was submitted by the cabinet, seeks to amend Section 73 of the Criminal Code to raise the minimum age for legal punishment from 10 years to 12, which means children aged under 12 years old would be exempt.
According to the bill, children aged 7-12 have yet to fully reach cognitive maturity, still lack a moral sense of right and wrong and cannot predict the outcome of their actions.
The bill reasons that young children who committed offences tend to repeat them. If they were subjected to the judicial proceedings prematurely, this would have a negative impact on their ability to reintegrate into society.
Therefore, raising the minimum age to 12 years would reduce the number of children facing legal proceedings, and other measures would be adopted to correct their behaviour.