A bill to raise the age of criminal responsibility from eight years to 12 years has been passed in the Lower House in Antigua and Barbuda.

The Child Justice (Amendment) Bill 2018 was piloted by Samantha Marshall, the social transformation minister.

“However, notwithstanding the age of criminal responsibility being raised to 12 years of age, a child who is under the age of 14 years cannot be prosecuted for an offence unless the court first proves beyond reasonable doubt that the child has the capacity to withstand a criminal trial,” she said according to a report by the Antigua Observer.

The minister said the intention was to bring Antigua and Barbuda “more in line” with international recommendations that the age of criminal responsibility not be set too low.

Meanwhile, Steadroy Benjamin, the attorney general, said the law establishing eight years as the age of criminal responsibility had been on the books since the 1890s throughout the British colonies.

He noted that in several countries the age of criminal responsibility had been changed to 14 years, but said Antigua and Barbuda would not be going that far as yet.

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