German judges oppose lowering age of criminal responsibility for children

Source: Xinhua| 2019-07-10 01:05:06|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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BERLIN, July 9 (Xinhua) -- Following a case of sexual assault by five children and juveniles, the German Association of Judges (DRB) spoke out on Tuesday against lowering the age of criminal responsibility for children from 14 years to 12 years.

"The equation that more criminal law equals less criminality does not work for young people," Jens Gnisa, chairman of the judges' association, told the German Press Agency (dpa).

Moreover, German juvenile criminal law had proven itself in principle and had "led to a significant reduction in juvenile delinquency due to its educational mandate," DRB chairman Gnisa noted.

In Germany, children under the age of 14 are generally not liable to prosecution and cannot be brought before a court.

The German child protection association (DKSB) also spoke out against reducing the age of criminal responsibility.

Instead, the German youth welfare offices should react and look into the causes of a child's behavior in individual cases, DKSB deputy managing director Martina Huxoll-von Ahn told the dpa.

The discussion came after a sexual assault on Friday, when three 14-year-olds and two 12-year-olds were accused of having raped a young woman in a forest near a town in North Rhine-Westphalia.

After the five suspects had initially been released, one of the three 14-year-olds was back in custody since Monday because of a "danger of repetition," according to the public prosecutor's office in Duisburg.

The 14-year-old had previously attracted attention for two sexual harassments before he was old enough to be held criminally responsible, the local German prosecutor said.

In response to the events, the head of the German police union (GdP) Rainer Wendt called for lowering the age of criminal responsibility to 12 years on Monday.

It was not a question of sending children to prison but of "extending the possibilities of the impact on these delinquent children to include the judicial possibilities, such as warnings, cautions or conditions, which a court can issue," Wendt said in an interview with the German newspaper Welt.