A lawmaker in the Philippines who believes that youth offenders are "pampered" because they "commit crimes knowing they can get away with it" is proposing a bill that lowers the age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 9.
"Apart from the fact that it's against human rights, it's very unfair to a child, to punish them in such a harsh way as the criminal system would be, for something that they never understood was that serious," Lotta Sylwander, the head of UNICEF in the Philippines, told The Guardian. Kids who spend their teens in prison "most probably will be damaged for life," she added, and statistics from the national police show that less than two percent of all crimes in the Philippines are conducted by children under the age of 15.
At the same time, a draft bill is making the rounds that calls for the restoration of the death penalty in the Philippines, which worries politicians who say if both bills pass, it could lead to a nine-year-old being sentenced to death. Supporters of the bills are allies of President Rodrigo Duterte, who before taking office last year pledged to launch a war on drugs. Since he became president, thousands of alleged drug dealers and addicts have been killed, and Sylwander said Duterte "rarely listens to facts, or doesn't find out the facts before he talks."