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Need for responsible approach to youth justice

Need for responsible approach to youth justice

Children¹s Commissioner Cindy Kiro is calling on Don Brash to clarify his proposal to lower the age of criminality to twelve.

Dr Kiro supports Dr Brash¹s statements that there should be early intervention to stop young people falling into a criminal lifestyle and more services for young people who are at risk.

However Dr Kiro says Section 272 (2) of the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act 1989 already states ten is the age of criminal responsibility for murder and manslaughter. She says Dr Brash needs to explain the comments in his recent speech about reducing the age of criminality to 12.

³We know that most children who break the law have been abused and traumatised, and need care and protection. These are children who need to be rehabilitated.²

Decreasing the age of a criminal would be in breach of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Dr Kiro says.

She points out the second periodic report of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has criticized New Zealand for keeping the age of ten for criminality and prosecuting 14-year-olds.

³Reducing the age of criminality would put New Zealand well out of line with other comparable countries,³ Dr Kiro says.

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