A proposal to lower the age of criminal liability in the Philippines to nine years old has come under fire from human rights groups and legislators, who warned the move could harm rather than protect children.
The justice committee of the House of Representatives on Monday approved the bill and the Senate began deliberating the proposal on Tuesday.
A number of senators have expressed concern that the move, which is aimed at protecting children from being used by criminal syndicates, could end up punishing the minors instead.
“If our problem is that a lot of children are being used to commit crime, then maybe what we should do as a policy is to increase the penalty of adults who used kids to commit crime,” Senator Joel Villanueva said.
When I was 9, I was only beginning to understand who I was. Today, a 9 year old child could potentially be put to jail. Philippines, you never fail to disappoint.— Jai Cabajardashian (@jaicabajar) January 21, 2019
Senator Grace Poe warned that the Philippines would be creating “kindergarten prisons” if the bill was approved.
“Throw these kids in a congested jail with adult criminals and chances are they will emerge from prison and rejoin society not as reformed and skilled individuals but as bitter young men,” she added.