Kids need protection from criminalisation

| 12/01/2022 | 19 Comments

(CNS): As part of the review of the Penal Code, the Law Reform Commission is recommending that the Cayman Islands raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility to at least twelve, or even 14 years old, to prevent children from being criminalised when they don’t have the capacity to infringe the criminal law, are too immature to stand trial or to be held accountable at the same level as adults. Under the current law, children can stand trial as young as ten years old. The Penal Code says children under ten are not criminally responsible but it also limits the circumstances where children under 14 can be held responsible.

However, the Cayman Islands Bill of Rights requires protection for children under the age of 18 and the LRC recommended that the Penal Code be amended to “reflect the protections afforded in the Bill of Rights”.

The commission said that Cayman needs to increase the age of criminal responsibility for a host of reasons and is asking the public to discuss a number of issues, including whether children under 12, or better still under 14, should be prevented from being criminally responsible.

The LRC examined the situation in a number of countries and found that the criminalisation of children in conflict with the law is perceived by many as being unfair and contrary to international human rights.

This includes the law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, where the minimum age of criminal responsibility remains at ten years old, largely as a result of the infamous murder of toddler James Bulger by two ten-year-old boys, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, in 1993.

Efforts to change the law in the UK to date have failed but there are many who believe that this case should not prevent the necessary reform.

“While children in the United Kingdom are not deemed to be mature enough to marry, even with parental consent, until they are sixteen years of age, to drive a car until seventeen years of age, or to vote in a general election until they are eighteen years of age, they may be criminalised at ten years of age,” the commission said in their discussion paper.

The LRC also noted that evidence suggests most children in conflict with the law have poor mental health, dysfunctional families and backgrounds of emotional, physical or sexual abuse.

The commissioners said they were of the view that children must be protected from the harmful effects of early criminalisation while ensuring that incidents of harmful behaviour by those who are under the minimum age may be effectively investigated to ascertain the facts surrounding the behaviour.

“The best interests of the child must be protected as well as the interests of victims and other persons that are affected by such harmful behaviour,” the LRC said in the paper. “Recommendations made with regard to increasing the age of criminal responsibility must be aimed at protecting children and affirming the commitment of the Cayman Islands to comply with the Constitution and the UNCRC.”

Recognising the complexities surround the prosecution of children and the need for victims to remain informed, the commission stressed that a child who is under the minimum age of criminal responsibility and whose behaviour is in conflict with the law should not be labelled as an offender, disadvantaged or stigmatised by a criminal record.

“Specific investigatory powers for the police may also be required together with a right for a child under the minimum age of criminal responsibility who is thought to be responsible for a serious incident to have access to a supporter and an advocacy worker during a formal police interview,” the wrote.

See the paper in the CNS Library.

Comments regarding raising the age of criminal responsibility and related issues should be submitted to the Director of the Law Reform Commission before 15 March.

By hand:
4th Floor Government Administration Building, Portfolio of Legal Affairs
133 Elgin Avenue, George Town, Grand Cayman

By mail:
P.O. Box 136
Grand Cayman KY1-9000

By email to cilawreform@gov.ky


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Category: Crime, Laws, Politics

Comments (19)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Where is the Penal Code available?
    Is it in all Libraries?
    If not..why??

  2. Anonymous says:

    Parents and schools alike do not know how to deal with kids with cognitive, developmental or behavioral issues.
    The kids are not criminals but their behavior is criminalized even from primary school..and definitely in high school.
    It takes parents to monitor and advocate for them esp when they mess up.
    SEN support is a joke and they think suspension without even referrals for help us a solution for our boys and girls of all nationalities.
    A crisis is upon us!
    Stats are also judged.
    Eg. Annual glowing “graduation stats” leave out those kids who dropped out or were not eligible to graduate!
    Only the good half of the story is told.

  3. Anonymous says:

    If ‘kids’ learn that they can do wrong or behave badly and get away with it, won’t it just encourage them down this route. I’d rather they were identified, dealt with fairly and put back on the right track before they turn into adult criminals.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Consideration must also be given to protection of the public. The feral children can be very dangerous.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Glad to note that the LRC is on working hard.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Kids need stable home environments and good parenting, primarily. Their broader environment is important but not crucial, I know Caymanian kids who grew up begging on the street and have become successful professionals (accountants, business persons, etc.).

    Likewise, I know kids who had every opportunity and all the “trappings” of a “good” household and have not succeeded in society.

    But, in Cayman like many other societies worldwide, many fathers are absentee, many mothers are too young and unprepared and grans are raising children (in the better scenario) or children raise themselves!

    Sociologist Dr. Frank McField’s warnings back in the 1970s & 80s were ignored by successive Governments. By the time he had any relevance, he was damaged goods!

    • Anonymous says:

      Frank wrecked the social fabric.
      He gave a great National Parenting Programme to 2 Jamaicans to run and it fell apart. So too other social, sports and housing programs.
      We will never recover from him.

      • Anonymous says:

        13 @ 9:58 pm – Like I said, by the time he became to prominence he was damaged. Perhaps I should have said, when he was relevant he was ignored. Truman Bodden & Jim Bodden constantly kept him down, rejected him and eventually sent him crazy! Check late 70s & 80s Cayman politricks!

        He’s never been the same, even when he was a Cabinet Minister – it was too late!

  7. Anonymous says:

    As a simple example, a Jamaican laborer comes here on 8 bucks an hour, meets a young Caymanian lady, babies her up then cant support her or the child, moves onto another young Caymanian and babies her up, then cant support her or the child, gets papers to stay here because he has 2 children (who he doesn’t support) and then all this mess becomes the government’s problem. When people start to understand the truth of the problem and how this affects the country as the children are being raised without a “decent” father, they can work to fix this. For those single mothers/fathers who are raising good honest children without spousal help, we salute you. When there’s a water pipe with multiple leaks, you need to fix them all otherwise your wasting your time and will keep paying for that leak.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yes, one of those men you describe currently works for Travel Cayman in a higher position.

    • Anonymous says:

      WORC are openly forcing out Philipinos so business are forced to hire Jamaicans. In the 25yrs i have been here, i have yet to see a Philipino have a child with a Caymanian.

      • Anonymous says:

        Are you for real.
        I know Filipino women in good relationships with kids.. Caymanians.. Jamaicans.. Americans.
        Even with English.

      • Anonymous says:

        Are you serious?! There’s many of us half breeds. Way older than 25 too!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Kids need to tell the truth at all times.

  9. Anonymous says:

    It is Parents responsible to teach kids what wrongs and rights. If parents fail then they should go jail as well.

    • Anonymous says:

      Lack of responsible male role models where women’s highest aspiration is breeding.

      • Anonymous says:

        To 8:12am: “highest aspiration”?! What a crock of crap. Some females’ idea of family is distorted, true, but to generalize in this manner borders in disrespect to women’s ability to excel and thrive without the male species beyond the physiological satisfaction SOME OF THEM provide.

    • Anonymous says:

      Just start with enforcing the maintenance law without the need for the mother to take time out of work to go back and forth to court. It should be automatic. Will save the govt a lot of money.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Gangs lure, target, and use minors as disposable pawns, lookouts, and runners, knowing they enjoy leniency in the eyes of the court. Younger the better as far as they are concerned. What we, and these kids need, are earlier interventions, and social work for the single moms and grannies that are struggling to raise kids with issues and propensity to go in this direction. With some of these kids teachers can spot them in kindergarten. They aren’t in hiding.

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