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State rights watchdog to oppose proposal of lowering age of criminal responsibility

(National Human Rights Commission of Korea)
(National Human Rights Commission of Korea)

The state human rights watchdog is expected to announce its opposition next month to the government's proposal to lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility below 14, officials said Sunday.

Currently, children aged between 10 and 14 cannot be held criminally responsible for their actions and are instead sent to juvenile detention facilities, not prisons, or made to do community service, in accordance with the Juvenile Act.

Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon has ordered an amendment lowering the minimum age in line with President Yoon Suk-yeol's campaign pledge. The government has said the proposal is aimed at preventing rising juvenile crimes.

The National Human Rights Commission is opposed to the proposal.

Officials said the commission held a standing committee meeting Thursday and decided to hold a plenary meeting early next month before officially announcing its opposition.

During this week's meeting, commissioners agreed that the current minimum age should be maintained in line with global trends. The commission also pointed out that the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child revised their guidance on the age of criminal responsibility, setting a minimum recommended age of at least 14.

The focus of juvenile crimes should not be on tougher punishment for young offenders but more education and reform to decrease the rate of repeat offenders, commission officials said. (Yonhap)

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