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Thai cabinet endorses raising age of criminal responsibility

Jack Burton

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PHOTO: Deputy government spokeswoman Traisuli Traisoranakul - Nation Thailand

The Cabinet has approved a draft bill increasing the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12 in line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It also gave the go-ahead to changing the age during which measures other than criminal punishments can be applied, from 10-15 to to 12-15, under the same code.

The changes are in line with the ICCPR and medical opinions that 12 year old children aren’t very different from 10 year olds in terms of cognitive skills, according to a government spokeswoman. She says the change will bring down the number of juvenile criminals, thereby cutting state expenditures.

“Other measures will be used such as close supervision or vocational training so children have a chance to grow up to be good citizens.”

Following the Cabinet’s approval yesterday, the draft will be forwarded to the Council of State for screening, before submission to government whips and then to the House of Representatives for debate.

While the potential revision will exempt those under 12 from punishment, if convicted by a court, the court is empowered to take any of the following steps to deal with offenders aged from 12 to 15, or their parents:

  • Warn young offenders before setting them free
  • Return young offenders to their parents or guardians, with a condition that they must prevent them from committing further offences for a specified period
  • Impose probation conditions on the young offender
  • In the case of young offenders without legal parents or guardians who are able take care of them, the court can place the youth under the care of a person or an organization appointed by the court for a specific period

The court can send the young offenders to a school or training centre designed to train young offenders for a specific period, but not until they are 18.

SOURCES: Thai PBS World | Bangkok Post

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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