German judges against lowering age of criminal responsibility to 12

Berlin (dpa) – The German Judges Association has spoken out against a reduction in the age of criminal responsibility in children following a high-profile gang rape case that involved suspects as young as 12. “Equating more criminal law with less crime does not work for the young,” the association’s chairman, Jens Gnisa, told dpa. Juvenile justice has proven itself in principle, she said. “It has led to a significant decline in juvenile delinquency through the educational mission laid down within it,” Gnisa said. There is no therefore need to reduce the age of criminal responsibility from 14 to 12 years.

The German Child Protection Association also expressly opposes such a step: the youth welfare office should instead respond and look at the causes of the child’s behaviour in individual cases, the deputy managing director, Martina Huxoll-von Ahn, told dpa on request. Gnisa also stressed that the state already has the opportunity to intervene in such cases via the youth welfare offices and the family courts. Three 14-year-olds and two 12-year-olds are the main suspects in a case of gang rape in the western city of Muelheim an der Ruhr that occurred at the weekend. The boss of the GdP German police union, Rainer Wendt, called for the age of criminal responsibility to be reduced to 12 years in light of this particular case, which has shocked Germany. The criminal age of responsibility in Germany is currently 14. Children under the age of 14 do not generally face criminal sanctions.

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