The Child Rights International Network has become aware that Vicente Sotto III, president of the Senate of the Philippines, has cited our research on the minimum age of criminal responsibility to support his reforms that would lower this age in his country. We reject in the strongest terms this proposal, which will serve only to criminalise more children and will do nothing to address the underlying reasons that children become involved in crime.
Allowing younger children to be held criminally responsible ignores 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. This is a reform that can only serve to draw more children into the criminal justice system.
The suggestion made by Mr Sotto that this reform will protect children forced to commit crimes by adults is misdirected and ignores the obvious solution, namely the criminalisation of those who exploit children and enforcement of these provisions against adults who involve children in criminality. Children coerced into crime by adults are victims: the state has an obligation to protect them, not to punish.
As the Senate holds hearings on these reforms, we urge it to reject these regressive measures that will do nothing to reduce crime committed by children.