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13 April


Discussing about lower age for criminal liability

Recent tragic events involving children have sparked this debate

Photo: VCG

/NOVOSTIVL/ Dozens of deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC) proposed during the two sessions lowering the age of criminal liability for young people to 12 years old, in response to the increasing number of reports on juveniles being involved in violent cases in recent years. This article appeared in the Global Times.

The proposal has triggered discussions on Chinese social media, with many supporting the proposal, hoping it will stop juvenile offenders escaping punishment after committing serious crimes.

Others are against it, saying the correct way to reduce juvenile delinquency lies in the involvement of the whole of society.

Together with 29 other deputies to the NPC, Liu Xiya, principal of Xiejiawan Primary School in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, proposed amending the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Minors, thepaper.cn reported on Tuesday.

The deputies suggest changing the lowest age at which young offenders are criminally liable to 12 years old, and the age for taking partial criminal liability to between 12 and 14 years old.

Young offenders aged between 12 and 14 must take criminal responsibility for vicious crimes, and young offenders aged above 14 should be fully criminally liable.

However, Zong Chunshan, director of the Beijing Youth Legal and Psychological Consultation Service Center, disagreed with amending the age. "Lowering the age of criminal responsibility will not reduce juvenile delinquency, since the deeper reasons lie in the absence of guardians, school education and social support",

Guo Chaowen, a Beijing-based lawyer, told the Global Times that although there is a trend for lowering the age for criminal liability due to the rapid development of juveniles' physical and mental growth, there is no rush to amend it right now.

"The procedure for lowering the age of criminal liability should go with the education situation in the whole country and should not be done in one go. For example, putting juveniles under the age of 14 into prisons or detention facilities would do more harm to their growth as well as to society," Guo said.