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LN: Top judge opposes children’s criminal liability

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Prague, May 16 (CTK) – Czech Supreme Court chairman Pavel Samal is against the proposed lowering of the age of criminal responsibility from the current 15 to 13 years, which MP Jeronym Tejc (Social Democrats, CSSD) wants to submit to parliament this week, daily Lidove noviny (LN) writes on Monday.

The criminal liability of underage youth will “rather increase crime,” Samal, the main author of the Czech criminal code, said.

He said children react in different ways than adults and they often see excessive punishment as injustice and they might want to take their revenge on society.

“When especially young people feel that society treats them unjustly, this usually triggers what we do not want,” he said, hinting at their possible future criminal records.

Tejc, lower house constitutional and legal committee head, rejects Samal’s argument of a possible revenge on society taken by children who were imprisoned, the paper writes.

Tejc said this argument may apply to computer piracy or something similar but not to murder or a more serious violent crime.

In reaction to the critics of his plan, Tejc limited the lowered age of criminal responsibility to the most serious crimes, such as terrorism, LN writes.

“This is a change that the Czech Republic really does not need,” Samal said.

He argues that children’s crime rate has been clearly falling in the last ten years.

Tejc challenged this and said the rate of violent crime were not falling.

“But even if the crime rates went down, I can see no reason why a person who committed murder should not be charged, even though the person was 13 years old,” Tejc told the paper.

Samal is not the only law expert who opposes a lower criminal responsibility age, however. Former justice minister Helena Valkova and Jiri Jelinek, head of the penal law department of Prague’s Faculty of Law, consider it unwise, too, LN writes.

“The age should not be lowered, certainly not in reaction to one case and certainly not as an election issue,” Jelinek said recently.

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