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Minister not opposed to lowering criminal liability age

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Prague, Feb 28 (CTK) – Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO) on Sunday said he is not opposed to a lowering of children’s criminal liability age from current 15, but he called for restraint in connection with deputy Jeronym Tejc’s proposal that the age limit drop to 13 for the most serious crimes.

Tejc (government Social Democrats, CSSD), who heads the lower house’s constitutional and legal committee, wants the age limit to be reduced from 15 to 13 years for crimes such as murder, rape and robbery with fatal consequences, he said in a discussion on Prima television.

He plans to submit the proposal this week, he added.

In reaction to him, Pelikan said on Czech Television (CT) that a commission of experts will be established at the Justice Ministry to assess the issue during the spring.

“In the [government] coalition, it has been usual that proposals are first pushed for on the coalition level [before being submitted to parliament],” Pelikan said.

He said he hopes that Tejc will wait for the above commission’s results.

Pelikan spoke about a possible lowering of the criminal liability age to 14 years only. In his opinion, it should be an across-the-board reduction, not one applying to selected crimes only, he said.

Tejc said he considers his proposal more acceptable and viable than a reduction of the age limit to 14 for all crimes.

In the CT discussion, Tejc’s proposal was backed by opposition TOP 09 deputy Martin Plisek, while Pelikan’s idea was supported by former justice minister Pavel Blazek (opposition Civic Democrats, ODS).

Another former justice minister, Jiri Pospisil (now MEP for TOP 09), said he generally agrees with the age limit lowering.

Two thirds of European countries have the age limit of children’s criminal liability lower than 15, Pospisil said, but voiced doubts about the idea of different age limits for different types of crime.

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