UNICEF commends Sri Lanka raising minimum age of children punished for crimes from 8 to 12

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The United Nations children’s organization, UNICEF commended Sri Lanka taking measures to amend the Penal Code to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 12 years.

The Government last week gazetted a bill to amend the Chapter 19 of Penal Code to increase the age limit under which no act of a child is an offence from 8 years to 12 years.

UNICEF in Sri Lanka said a change in the age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 12 years will benefit all children in Sri Lanka and urged the Parliament to take the steps needed to adopt “this vital bill.”

“UNICEF applauds the Ministry of Justice’s work to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility in Sri Lanka from 8 years to 12 years. We call on Parliament to adopt this bill. We will continue to advocate for a rise to 14 years in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)

“We encourage the Parliament in Sri Lanka to adopt a new bill to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 8 to 12 years. Moving forward, we advocate for a rise to minimum 14 years,” Jean Gough, Regional Director for UNICEF South Asia said.

According to the Bill nothing is an offence which is done by a child above twelve years of age and under fourteen, if the judge is of the opinion that he has not attained sufficient maturity to understand the nature and consequences of his act.

If the child, who committed the offence, is between 12 and 14 years of age, law enforcement authorities must consult the discretion of a Magistrate to determine whether the child has the required degree of maturity to commit an offence.

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