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UNICEF commends Sri Lanka raising minimum age of criminal responsibility


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

The Government last week gazetted a bill to amend Chapter 19 of the 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 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,” UNICEF South Asia Regional Director Jean Gough said.

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