St Vincent changes child prosecution law

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The parliament of St Vincent and the Grenadines has raised the age of criminal responsibility for a child from eight to 12 years old.

The new law dictates that a child under 12 shall not be prosecuted for an offence that he or she has allegedly committed.

“A child age 12 but under the age of 14 years shall be presumed not to have the capacity to appreciate the difference between right and wrong unless this is proved otherwise,” Minister of National Mobilisation Frederick Stephenson explained to parliament regarding the law, called the Child Justice Act.

Additionally, corporal punishment or a life sentence cannot be imposed on a child under 12 under the new law.

However, it points out that prosecution of a child age 12 but less than 14 years old must be on the basis of certification of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).

Stephenson noted that the new law applies to any person who turns 18 before the proceedings that had been instituted are concluded.

He explained that the law also applies to persons over 18 but under 21, on the direction of the DPP in special circumstances.

The new law replaces the Juveniles Act.

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