Age of criminal consent to rise to 12 years

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A bill to raise the age of criminal responsibility from eight years to 12 years has been passed in the Lower House.
The Child Justice (Amendment) Bill 2018 was piloted by Samantha Marshall, the social transformation minister.
“However, notwithstanding the age of criminal responsibility being raised to 12 years of age, a child who is under the age of 14 years cannot be prosecuted for an offence unless the court first proves beyond reasonable doubt that the child has the capacity to withstand a criminal trial,” she said.
The minister said the intention was to bring Antigua and Barbuda “more in line” with international recommendations that the age of criminal responsibility not be set too low.
Meanwhile, Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin, the attorney general, said the law establishing eight years as the age of criminal responsibility had been on the books since the 1890s throughout the British colonies.
“Many tests have been done, many research have been carried out and it has been discovered that children at eight cannot really have the capacity to form the criminal intent to commit a felonious act or any act illegal or otherwise,” Benjamin said.
The AG noted that in several countries the age of criminal responsibility had been changed to 14 years, but said Antigua and Barbuda would not be going that far as yet. He did not give a reason for that position.
The bill had originally sought to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 10 years.
 

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