Age is Arbitrary - Discussion paper on setting minimum ages

Date: 7th April 2016
Category: Age of criminal responsibility, General principles

This paper examines the use and worth of age thresholds in the context of a number of contentious children's rights issues. It reflects current discussions in Scotland on the minimum age of criminal responsibility, and exposes how minimum ages can be inconsistent, discriminatory and arbitrary.

Some of the questions CRIN addresses in its new discussion paper 'Age is Arbitrary: setting minimum ages' are, when do minimum ages protect or limit children's rights? What is meant by capacity and free and informed consent? How can greater rights recognition rather than age thresholds better protect children from abuse? And why is children's access to justice limited simply because of their age? The paper examines a series of contentious children's rights issues using general principles and rights-based criteria.


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CRIN are encouraging a debate around this paper, and as such are welcoming comments, as well as information about relevant case law, case studies and campaigns.

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Together are a part of the Independent Advisory Group that has released its report on the minimum age of criminal responsibility in Scotland. The key recommendation is that the age of criminal responsibility should be raised from 8 to 12 years as soon as possible.