Dr. Elizabeth Protacio-De Castro is Professor at the Department of Psychology, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy of the University of the Philippines Diliman. She is currently the Director of Psychosocial Support and Children’s Rights Resource Center (PST CRRC), a regional institution that engages in research, training and publication on children’s rights and welfare issues, child protection and psychosocial support. She also worked for UNICEF East Asia and the Pacific Regional Office in Bangkok, Thailand as a child protection specialist. At present, she serves as Advisory Board Member of the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network and as the President of the Board of Trustees of Child Rights Coalition Asia (CRC Asia). Dr. De Castro has publications a on a number of issues affecting children’s rights and childhood. She has received several national and international awards, including The Outstanding Women in the Nations Service Award (TOWNS) in the Philippines, and the Leo and Liesl Eitinger Human Rights Award in Oslo, Norway.
Criminalizing 9-Year Olds: Arguments against Lowering the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility
by Elizabeth Protacio-De Castro, PhD with co-authors Amihan Abueva, and Hazelyn Joy Bitaña, Child Rights Coalition Asia
The current Juvenile Justice Law of the Philippines is recognized as landmark legislation, but several bills have been filed to revise it since its enactment in 2006. The salient feature of the law that has always been subjected for revision pertains to the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) or the lowest age at which children can be prosecuted in court. The current law sets the MACR at 15 years old, but the pending bill at the 17th Congress seeks to lower it to 9 years old.
This paper presents the arguments against lowering the MACR based on evidences indicating that child and adolescent brains are underdeveloped; punitive approaches to children are ineffective; and detaining children is not cost-effective. This paper also presents data on the effectiveness of restorative justice in preventing recidivism, as well as the history of the MACR in the Philippines.
About the co-authors:
Amihan Abueva is Regional Executive Director of Child Rights Coalition Asia (CRC Asia). She co-founded ECPAT International, a network that covers more than 70 countries to end the commercial sexual exploitation of children. From 2012 to 2014, Amihan served as the Philippine Representative on Children’s Rights to the ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC). She is the first recipient of the Wilberforce Leadership Award given by the US-based organization Free the Slaves.
Hazelyn Joy Bitaña is Advocacy and Communications Coordinator of Child Rights Coalition Asia (CRC Asia). She holds a Master of Statistics degree and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Communication magna cum laude from the University of the Philippines Diliman. Hazel pursues her advocacy for children’s rights by being involved in organizations such as Asia Against Child Trafficking (Asia ACTs) and Plan International.