Bill of Rights proposals leaked to Newsletter

The Human Rights Forum tends to provoke significant reactions from many. The Newsletter is reporting a leak of the draft document outlining current ideas for the Bill of Rights.

According to the Newsletter the following may be being proposed:
-Raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18 – meaning that rapists, murderers and other criminals under that age could not be prosecuted;

-Defining victims as those who have survived “violent, conflict-related incidents” with no distinction between those responsible for atrocities and innocent victims.

The document also states “Everyone shall enjoy appropriate healthcare and social care services, including reproductive healthcare.”

Lord Laird has attacked the whole thing and has suggested that the Secretary of State may veto parts of the proposals.

A spokesman for the HRF stressed that the document was still a draft and said the contentious issues of abortion, victims and the age of criminal responsibility had yet to be agreed upon by the group.

“The public are very welcome to observe our plenary session at the Wellington Park Hotel today from 9am to 6pm,” he said.

Whilst I have tried in the past to avoid the knee jerk opposition to the Bill of Rights; these proposals, which I accept, are only leaks of a draft are pretty ludicrous. A number of the proposals run very clearly contrary to what seems to be the wishes of the people of Northern Ireland and this body seems to potentially have power and authority without any mandate or democratic accountability.

  • Pete Baker
  • joeCanuck

    Raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18 is absolutely ridiculous.
    I am in favour of treating young people differently because of the silly things a lot do while maturing but the vast majority should know right from wrong by age 12, certainly by 14.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    I wonder if the people making these decisions have ever suffered from the hands of youths under the age of criminal responsibility or terrorists who murdered and tortured ‘real’ victims?

    Do they even live in areas where criminality is rife?

    Have they ever got their property damaged by children?

  • Harry Flashman

    So abortion and giving hoodies a free run are now fundamental human rights are they?

    And people wondered why there could be any objection to a Bill of Rights, thank heavens I emigrated long ago.

  • George

    The Irish Republic has recently raised the age of criminal responibility to 12. So what happens?

    The criminal gangs in Limerick are already recruiting and training up 10 and 11 year olds to do certain work for them. It’s called risk reduction.

    I don’t doubt ingenious northern criminals will also take advantage of the youth in the area.

  • Ulsters my homeland

    good point about the criminal gangs George.

  • DC

    “Raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18 – meaning that rapists, murderers and other criminals under that age could not be prosecuted”

    This tends to run in contrast to wider societal change which is proving that the 1950’s family model is disintegrating and childhood is pretty much over by 11.

    I would rather see more legal responsibility on ‘children’, dependent of course on allowing for individual assessment re pyschological development that does vary per person, as current interactions with the adult world is happening lower down the age scale, progressing year on year. Children generally are accessing the adult’s role be it by drinking, working, deviating away from normative ‘children’s’ play patterns. So it would seem out of kilter.

    Education is the key to forming appropriate new outcomes and views on contemporary approaches to how one should live their life with dignity and respect towards other. Responsibility is the key.

    The likelihood is that any approved Bill of Rights will not be picked up and instilled in the minds of the wider populace because it just wont register with any interest and fall outside the reach of individual’s life patterns, just like much of ‘key’ legislation falls continually on deaf ears. As the State is getting smaller its disconnection with the people becomes wider.

    People in their free time just dont want to know, but to highly paid rights experts operating their little distinct public sector power channels it means everything. But nothing to Joe Public and its younger mates out on the streets right this minute. The reality is that people aren’t tuned in and the problem will not be solved by a Bill of Rights but perhaps by whole new rethink of public representation and its involvement with people.

  • fair_deal

    The human rights sector just doesn’t realise that its made the rope to hang itself with by pushing most of this junk.

  • wild turkey

    DC

    generally agree with your points, especially on the disconnect between the planet nirvana rights industry and jo(e) public…however

    1. ‘Education is the key to forming appropriate new outcomes and views on contemporary approaches to how one should live their life with dignity and respect towards other. ‘
    For education read parental responsibility. The primary education does have a supportive role to play but the buck starts and stops with parents.

    2. ‘Responsibility is the key. ‘
    Acceptance and practice of personal responsibility is the key…for both parents and young adults, ie those aged say 12 and above.

  • DC

    “For education read parental responsibility.”

    But even parental responsibility can be gulfed by the influx of contemporary changes to modern life. It is of course very complex debate as it touches on the meaning of life and individual conduct which is baffling at best.

    Although, one of the best changes to young people happened when they introduced free compulsory education which took workhouse kids out of the linen factories etc, 100s of years ago.

    You need to ask where education starts and where control of it stops, but the impression I get is that compulsory education should be lengthened, in order to help change societal problems, which it would seem are becoming more complex as individual freedom causes a good deal more diversity (in many good and bad ways!).

    Of course it is very broad sweep statement in that poor schools will likely to continue with poor outcomes; however, getting the wider educational system right coupled with an effective curriculum will certainly do a lot more than this ‘Bill’could ever pretend to do.

    Unless of course this Bill considers extending free compulsory education or perhaps ensures that all children only leave the schooling system when they can spell their name and can apply themselves in a useful way after leaving.

  • Garibaldy

    I’m all in favour of a strong and properly enforced Bill of Rights. I think it’s absolutely essential to protect the rights of citizens in any state, never mind NI.

    However, I can’t help agreeing with Fair Deal that the various interest groups that have been given a disproportionate say in the consultation process have rendered themselves laughable. And risk making the project – already a long way away from how it was first envisaged – a joke as well.

  • wild turkey

    ‘It is of course very complex debate as it touches on the meaning of life and individual conduct which is baffling at best.’

    Spot on DC.
    I have vague recollections of a Tim Buckley tune with a line to the effect ‘ I am puzzled as a newborn child’

    ‘Unless of course this Bill considers extending free compulsory education or perhaps ensures that all children only leave the schooling system when they can spell their name and can apply themselves in a useful way after leaving.’

    yeah, people should (assuming there are meaningful,unbiased, reliable and valid measurement instruments) leave formal education with a suitable level of literacy, numeracy and social skills. But this then raises a few a questions.

    1. Who are the responsible individuals; students,teachers,parents, and institutions; family, each school, government?
    2. does right to suitable educational outcomes collide with compulsion, ie sorry,you can’t leave school until you have acquired the necessary minimum standards/skills.

    again, I am puzzled as the newborn child… and off to the kids swimming lesson

    Mahalo

  • Gregory

    It is proof the Newsletter & Lord Laird are at times ahead of the game.

    Rising the age of criminal responsibility to 18 would go down like a lead balloon with Liberal Democrats, Gay Rights folks, I don’t think it would change much,

    juvewnile thugs are unlikely to pay much of a pemalty for killing people,

    unless of course they make the mistake of killing somebody important, a gay person person or a police officer for example.

    G.

  • Gregory

    “Education is the key to forming appropriate new outcomes and views on contemporary approaches to how one should live their life with dignity and respect towards other. Responsibility is the key. ”

    I don’t think our teachers have a role there, the myopic eejits can’t see beyond their own selfishness.

    I was told the other day that chucking a duster across a classroom was not corporal punishment. I suppose we can file it under target practice.

    Teaching learning how to duck as a life skill, it might work for some, I hope the CCMS are reading this by the way, because, it’s an issue.

  • Gregory

    “I am puzzled as a newborn child”

    I can think of at least one newborn who is going to be a bit puzzled for a very long time.

    G.

    http://tinyurl.com/2fz2us

    ‘Pregnant’ man stuns medical profession
    By Catherine Elsworth in Los Angeles

  • jone

    Gregory this is far from proof that the Newsletter is ahead of the game. The Irish News had the age of criminal responsibility weeks ago.

  • Gregory

    “Gregory this is far from proof that the Newsletter is ahead of the game. The Irish News had the age of criminal responsibility weeks ago.”

    They’re both helping me out, both the Newsletter and Lord Laird,

    in fairness the BBC and Belfast Telegraph are at times easily scammed by a host of characters. tHat could be the PSNI, DENI etc.

    Fact based reporting is a dying art. I would refer you to the gloss jobs on CEOP and Jim Gamble by the Telegraph.

    For example, it was left to the Catholic media to report that CEOP brough hard core lolita porn lords to a child protection conference in Belfast, later picked up by the Daily Ireland.

    A DUP LOrd Mayor gave a civi reception and the EU disowned the congfrence.

    That should have been news for the BBC and Belfast Telegraph. The reason the EU eventually choked was Hungarian pedophile groups in the background.

    I know what you’re saying.

    It was a faction cheer.

    From me.

    G.

  • Jesus wept

    The Shinners would need to be pretty good at distancing themselves from this frankly dangerous attempt at raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18. There is as much appetite for such a change in West Belfast as there is for the return of the 12th on the Falls.
    I pray to God these fools have allowed their arrogance to over-reach themselves and wiser counsel will prevail further up the line…if not, there will be the first cross community popular uprising
    on this hoods’ charter. If hoods can’t be dealt with by the criminal justice system, there will be a massive swell of support for any armed group who promises to do so.
    Worth bearing in mind that the 20 year old individual alleged to have killed Bap McGreevy was terrorizing the people of WB for several years before that murder and the only time he wasn’t, was when he was locked up.
    Sinn Fein, your voters do not want this!

  • Jesus christ I cant believe some of the shite that people are spinning here, raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18 does not mean the abolition of the juvenille justice system or that those young people who commit crimes cannot be held responsible. It does not mean that hoods will have a free reign either, what it does mean is that the rights of those most vulnerable in our society i.e. our children, will be protected under law and in keeping with best international standards like the UN convention on the rights of the child.

    http://www.unicef.org.uk/youthvoice/pdfs/uncrc.pdf

    Article 37 and 40 are particularly relevant, for the simps out there

  • DC

    Nice try saveus, the UN needs to get its house in order too.

  • Small mercies

    One of the few good things to come of the murders of Harry and Bap is that there is no way the shinners will publically support this, even if they’ve felt obliged to during internal disucssions…thus stripping away most of the political cover for these dangerous proposals that are divorced from the reality of working class areas.
    The realpolitik is that if you decriminalise 17 year old rapists and murderers, they will still be dealt with and much more severely, such will be the eruption of disblief and anger in the community that the hoods have been given yet MORE cover.

    Saveus, I trust you will be opening up your home for rehabilitation / hugs for the little darlings when we can’t bang the scum up any more? Not that we do that enough as it it.

  • Gregory

    The UK doesn’t really do international standards, which have (in anycase) to be balanced against each other, ICCPR and so on.

    G.

  • saveus

    Oh dear, some slow learners here !! to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18 DOES NOT mean decriminalising crime by young people but rather a re-evaluation of how they are treated. Children should not be in jail with adults no matter what because, yes, I do believe they can be rehabilitated, children are not born bad or evil.I want to live in a society where the rights of the vulnerable are protected, because of the fucked up history of this place the protection of human rights should be paramount. SM do you agree that the incarceration of 15,16 & 17 year olds in Long Kesh during the war was correct??

  • small mercies

    “SM do you agree that the incarceration of 15,16 & 17 year olds in Long Kesh during the war was correct??”

    No.

    Do I think 15, 16 and 17 year old rapists and murderers should be taken off the streets to protect the truly vulnerable?
    Yes.

    There is no comparison.
    The feral scum plaguing WB and other places do not have the excuse of deprivation due to the war – I am in my early fifties and remember what real poverty was like. If we cannot protect ourselves, then we MUST allow the courts to lock 15, 16, and 17 year old murderers and rapists up where they can no longer rape, murder and literally terrorize their communities.
    I don’t believe SF will back this irresponsible politically correct move, in the final analysis. If they do, and I don’t say this lightly, I won’t vote for them again. I know I am not alone.

  • Animus

    How old is that draft? In an early working group draft, people discussed raising the age but this wasn’t a proposal that went through, nor was it voted on. It was recognised as unworkable, and didn’t carry

    So keep right up with the knee-jerk reactions. Obviously the Newsletter is a bit behind, though, even Mark Devenport had a more recent draft from last week.

    It just shows how stupid the populace is generally when instead of looking into the Forum and the actual documents, a representative sample of politically interested people on Slugger can get so easily waylaid by something that isn’t even confirmed. I guess we get the government we deserve.

  • George

    saveus,
    Oh dear, some slow learners here !! to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18 DOES NOT mean decriminalising crime by young people but rather a re-evaluation of how they are treated.

    And what exactly does that comment mean?

    Would a 17-year-old serial rapist appear on a sex offenders’ list if the age of criminal responsibility was raised to 18?

    What do the forum mean when it says that people under 18 would always only be imprisoned for “the shortest possible time”?

    Why should the teenagers that kicked Sophie Lancaster to death get out in the shortest possible time because they are under 18 but serve life if they are not?

    Why are Limerick gangs already targeting children under the age of criminal responsibility if it is not already an issue?

  • steve48

    What does decriminalising mean

    two words

    Craig Price

    Google this case in Rhode Island and imagine

  • consistency

    “even Mark Devenport had a more recent draft from last week.”

    Devenport’s draft had EXACTLY THE SAME proposals on raising the age of criminal responsibility. So the continuing and widespread concern on this issue is entirely justified.
    At least when we get the government we deserve, we voted for it. I don’t remember being asked to vote for these bleeding heart, self hating quangocratic buffoons.
    Happily as someone has pointed out, they are truly over-reaching themselves this time. Unless that is dropped completely, it is SO out of step with public opinion (just at this stage, imagine the reaction if it is formally proposed!) that it will fatally sink the whole project. And hopefully some ‘careers’ with it.

  • wild turkey

    ‘What does decriminalising mean
    two words
    Craig Price’

    Holy shit, you’ve jogged my memory Steve48 (I’m originally from down the road in Connecticut).

    If I was a cruel man, I would suggest that given his interest in slow learners, saveus should sign out mr craig for a weekend mano mano to discuss the intricacies and efficacy of ‘re-evaluating’ how young offenders are treated in law. But I am not a cruel man, probably just a slow learner.

    Given the stated interest of the forum in international perspectives and best practice, perhaps the forum should be proactive and invite a submission from Mr Price on the issue of youth rights and criminality which is complex, emotive and surely not a matter of black and white…It’s a matter of wrongs and rights.

  • saveus

    George, its fairly simple it means that anyone under the age of 18 should not be in prison with adults.I am not advocating that children who break the law walk away.
    SM if you want to ensure that no more 15, 16 & 17 year olds end up in gaol then you cant equivocate, either its wrong or its not. I have no doubt given SFs’ recent lurch to the right that they will support the hang em and flog em brigade and take another step towards Thatcher’s utopia, I suspect you will be voting at the next election. Beir bua

  • small mercies

    Sorry mate but I do think there is a world of difference between young men scooped by the Brits either because they were fighting the war (or because they were uninvolved kids) being incarcerated (and often tortured) in Long Kesh internment camp and rapists and murderers being taken off the streets to protect the vulnerable, and put into properly regulated prisons.
    I will equivocate on that for as long as you like and so will anyone decent in West Belfast with who has to live amongst them. It’s a lot more than those people think the hoods deserve. Take away society’s ability to do even that and there will be a backlash like you wouldn’t believe. It’s already stirring.

  • Mick Fealty

    saveus,

    To be fair, I think the confusion arises from the Forum’s 2nd Draft, as held on Mark Devenport’s blog, in which it suggests that “Every person under the age of eighteen years should be treated as a child for the purposes of the administration of criminal justice.” This is the very first ‘clause’ under the heading of Youth Justice. .

    So what does that mean under the law as it stands. Well it hasn’t changed since I first learned in primary school (back in the sixties, if you’re asking) that until the age of 10 the law says that you cannot be held responsible for a crime.

    From youthinformation.com:

    “Between the ages of 10 and 14 you can be convicted of a criminal offence if the prosecution can show you were aware that what you were doing was seriously wrong. For example, the case of Jamie Bulger, who was killed by two 10 year olds, was based on this principle. The prosecution showed that the two boys knew that what they were doing was seriously wrong and they were given prison sentences.

    “After the age of 14 the law considers you are fully responsible for your actions in the same way as an adult. As such you will be treated as an adult in a court of law in terms of criminal responsibility (although not in terms of sentencing).”

    None of this tallies with the idea ‘saveus’ has suggested that it’s about keeping kids out of prison (they are only supposed to go to prison after they reach 18 as it stands). Even if that was what has been intended by its supporters, the the draft (which seems to have been hardened from the working party report back’s suggestion of staging it first to 16 and then later to 18) implies something much more radical.

    Now, and I think this is important to bear in mind, this clause is in here, because somebody wanted it in and presumably there was insufficient consensus to exclude it as being impractical/undesireable.

    At the very least, I imagine the HRC is going up the walls at the thought of having to work out what proposal has what kind of support, and whether it might stay in or get bucked out in the draft they in turn pass on to others. There was no indication yesterday that there is much of a reductive process going on.

  • saveus

    SM I live in WB and I am a decent person, i am also a person who had my rights trampled on by this state because some people thought I was a criminal, I am not comparing my actions or my comrades actions with the criminal acts you describe but what I am saying is that i think that human rights must be protected at all costs if we are to break free from our past. this brings with it some tough decisions and some unpallatable truths, locking up children wil not resolve the issue of anti-social behaviour, neither will some form of vigilagante movement and neither will “hugging” them. The point I was trying to make is that you cannot equivocate on the universal nature of human rights, they apply to all, not just those we like or the “decent people”

  • Pete Baker

    It’s straying somewhat from the topic..

    But, saveus,

    “I am not comparing my actions or my comrades actions with the criminal acts you describe but what I am saying is that i think that human
    rights must be protected at all costs if we are to break free from our past.”

    Have you considered that your, or your comrades, disregard for the human rights of others might have impacted on the current generation’s attitude towards the human rights of others?

  • Gregory

    I thought I was the only person who copped onto the fact it was illegal for the IRA to shoot its prisoners, the Brit & RUC captures,

    I didn’t come early to that, one day I woke up and it just semed a bit wrong,

    I mean like a breach of the Geneva Accords. We needed universal human rights more during the unpleasantnes than we need that now.

    SF have a myopic view of human rights, I mean with that FARC thing, they do concubinage & Narco facilitation,

    I remember being with Harry Holland and Danny Morrison, and we agreed it didn’t matter how many bridges and roads they’d done,

    they were a bit iffy by our own (fairly brutal) Irish standards.

  • saveus

    Yes Pete I have and I fully accept personal responsibility for my actions hence my committment to promoting and upholding human rights, especially for the most vulnerable in our society

  • Pete Baker

    Hmm..

    “I have and I fully accept personal responsibility for my actions”

    There remains the actions of your comrades..

    But “committment to promoting and upholding human rights” isn’t an acknowledgement of the impact of your actions on the current generation’s attitude towards the human rights of others.

  • DC

    “SF have a myopic view of human rights”

    Yea too right.

    Recall back to the past the botched IRA bomb that killed a 13yo girl and her Granda coming back from bingo in Benburb. The car itself acted to detonate the bomb before the arriving army vehicles would have done. Not an apology or examination into human rights at that particular point.

    Then there is Martina Anderson, Human Rights up-to-speed apparently, but she still took to going about England and the likes placing plastic explosives in cars etc. With Martina Anderson bizarrely it seems that it is her right to be a republican which overrides all other rights, especially why she cant go back to read over preceding rights law and see that she deviated way off them back in her role as IRA-provocateur in the 8os. Brazen cheek of her!

    The list goes on but had to stop as it was a hiding to nothing for all involved. Time for a bit of compassion, but you got me thinking back there.

    I appreciate where ‘saveus’ is coming from but the easy-to-read rights that that person posted off the UN is really simplistic propaganda used to roughly signify what is expected of developing nations, whose existing criminal justice apparatus harks back to something akin to Third Reich Special Courts.

  • George

    Saveus,
    you say it’s simple and that children should not be in prison with adults and also that the law should not walk away.

    Fair enough but this can be achieved without raising the age of criminal responsibility. I point you back to the questions I posed which are just some of the more obvious ones that people have regarding raising the age of criminal responsibility.

    I don’t see why human rights interests should necessarily involve raising criminal responsibility to 18 if such a move helps criminals while at the same time hinders the administration of justice and impinges on the rights of others.

  • saveus

    Mick & George “every person under the age of eighteen years should be treated as a child” this is at the core of the discussion, best international practice dictates that a child is someone under 18, if we agree with that age benchmark then we have to make special provisions for those “children” in the bill of rights in relation to criminal justice, health, education etc etc

    DC “used to roughly signify what is expected of developing nations, whose existing criminal justice apparatus harks back to something akin to Third Reich Special Courts” I would proffer this is where we are currently at, not third reich but not a kick in the hole off it, we have been human rights light in this place for too long.

    Pete, I couldnt find my sack cloth and ashes,I can only speak for myself and I accept that my actions impacted on the current generation’s attitude towards the human rights of others, Do You? because I dont think anyone was blameless

  • willis

    Can someone explain how you leak a document which is already in the Public Domain?

    http://www.billofrightsforum.org/index/working_groups/criminal_justice_and_victims.htm

  • Comrade Stalin

    The more I think about this human rights commission idea, the more it seems to be fundamentally broken. We’ve already got a court of human rights, namely the European one, and above that there are the more informal structures provided by the UN. What is the point in having a bill of rights specific to one corner of either the UK or Ireland (depending on your outlook) ? There’s sod all point in me having rights if I lose them all when I cross the border or get on a ferry ?

    saveus:

    I appreciate your contribution, and I agree with the idea that people under 18 should not be imprisoned with adults, although I think the current situation with regards to trial should be retained. The News Letter is engaging in real scaremongering here. On the other hand, the article shows that the HRC is going to have a real job on its hands explaining the benefits of what it is doing in a society where crime, specifically youth crime, is perceived to be on the increase and where there is a widespread perception that the police and courts are too soft.

    to break free from our past. this brings with it some tough decisions and some unpallatable truths, locking up children wil not resolve the issue of anti-social behaviour, neither will some form of vigilagante movement and neither will “hugging” them.

    Punishment in the form of sentencing is an essential part of the process of dealing with crime. I accept that it does not solve the problem of crime, but it does provide a deterrent, and aside from that it helps get people who are intent on making life miserable for others off the streets. People need to understand that if they cause trouble, they go to jail; and if they want to stop going to jail, they need to seek professional help to address whatever issue it is that is keeping them there.

    Here where I live, we have problems with under 16s who like to go up and down the street chucking things at houses, lighting fires, vandalizing property and causing a real nuisance. They try to coax residents out and get them to react violently, so that they can go to a solicitor and get a claim in, as well as get a chance to laugh at the person they successfully baited in court who may find that the court case leads to damage to his personal life and career. The police come out, they run away, the police leave and they come back. Asked for advice, the police tell us that we should not react, as that will make things worse, and that we should not take pictures, as that means that we can be prosecuted for possessing photographs of a minor; in other words, we should just sit tight and take it.

    This situation makes it impossible for me to accept that the kids do not know what they are doing and have no responsibility, and I cannot accept that a firm intervention by the justice system will not help. They know exactly what they are doing, and the police know that they know, and they know that we know that they know which means they can continue to get away with it. This isn’t sustainable.

    The problems that I am describing take place againt a background of social problems, including parents who are alcoholics or drug addicts, or who are knee deep in organized crime. There are kids who don’t have anybody to make breakfast or ensure they are washed and dressed for school in the morning, or to help them with their homework, etc. Despite all of this I think the majority of them are probably decent under it all. There’s a small minority of really bad eggs who exert influence on the rest through peer pressure, etc. It’s that specific element which is beyond saving. We need to stop kidding ourselves that they can be saved and reconcile ourselves to the fact that there are people who, from an early age, are destined to spend most of their adult lives in jail.

  • Turgon

    saveus,
    “I dont think anyone was blameless”

    Well by the sound of what you are tangentially admitting to you were extremely not blameless. It sounds to me like you were a terrorist and committed crimes. I do not know what they were and you seem disinclined to enlighten us. Are you not “proud” of your actions.

    In terms of no one being blameless well let us see. I doubt Pete Baker has killed anyone or committed any other crimes, I have not, I suspect Mick Fealty has not. Indeed I could go through person after person of all opinions on this site let alone in the real world who has done none of these. As such before the law and by any conventional morality they are indeed blameless.

    The blame for the crimes committed here rests on the shoulders of the perpetrators and them alone as assuredly for the terrorists as for those who murdered Mr. McGreevy.

    You do not “think” anyone was blameless. Well you think whatever you want if that is how you explain yourself to your own conscience. The overwhelming majority of us will regard you by your own admissions as guilty and we will not be tarred with the criminal brush with which you tar yourself.

  • George

    Saveus,
    best international practice dictates that a child is someone under 18, if we agree with that age benchmark then we have to make special provisions for those “children” in the bill of rights in relation to criminal justice, health, education etc etc

    Once again, fair enough but you can have provisions to protect children in relation to criminal justice without having to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18.

    Why raise the age and what would this mean for the situations I have mentioned above such as the administration of justice, targeting of children by criminal gangs, teenage serial rapists and the ability to list them as sex offenders?

    There is already anecdotal evidence that 10-year-olds are used in organised crime so do you think this will improve if the age is increased to 18?

    What about a situation where someone who is 17 years and 364 days is treated one way and someone a day older is treated another?

    You also brought up the United Nations but even the UNCHR doesn’t specify a minimum age of criminal responsibility.

    Article 40 of the UNCRC requires signatory states to:

    “seek to promote the establishment of laws, procedures, authorities and institutions specifically applicable to children alleged as,
    accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law, and, in particular:

    (a) The establishment of a minimum age below which
    children shall be presumed not to have the capacity to infringe the penal law.”

    The UNCRC has criticised jurisdictions in which the minimum age is 12 or less which I would agree with but even it hasn’t (to the best of my knowledge) called for a criminal age of 18.

    The general philosophy behind this approach is explained in the official commentary to the
    United Nations’ Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice (the “Beijing
    Rules”):

    “The minimum age of criminal responsibility differs widely owing to history and culture.
    The modern approach would be to consider whether a child can live up to the moral and
    psychological components of criminal responsibility; that is, whether a child, by virtue of her or his individual discernment
    and understanding, can be held responsible for essentially antisocial behaviour.

    If the age of criminal responsibility is
    fixed too low or if there is no age limit at all, the notion of responsibility would become
    meaningless.”

    So even “best practice” doesn’t want criminal responsibility arbitrarily raised to 18 so why on earth should this happen in Northern Ireland?

  • willowfield

    saveus

    George, its fairly simple it means that anyone under the age of 18 should not be in prison with adults.

    Ever heard of Hydebank?

  • Leaving aside the issue of the criminal age of responsibility for a moment, my focus is what’s being said on the issue of language and linguistic communities. Under the Bill of Rights, if it were adapted and implemented in its current form, the protection for the Irish language could be stronger than it would be under the Irish Language Act with general rights being accorded to the speakers of ‘indigeneous languages’ which would compel public authorities to provide a range of services.

    This is, of course, a good thing and would put manners on the likes of the BBC who are so backwards about living up to the promises made by the two Governments on behalf of the promotion of Irish in public life.

    I see also that this measure is largely agreed by the Forum which means, in effect, that it’s seen by this independent body as non contentious. A far cry from Edwin Poots perspective – and that’s another good thing.

  • DC

    Looks as though the whole culture-identity thing has been jettisoned by dissenting parties turning away from that bit of the Bill.

    Once again Stormont side steps those tricky cultural issues that really sum up a sense of belonging. And if you don’t belong or cant seem to find suitable political space to feel at place in the new Stormont then it must surely leave many disappointed.