No to lowering the age

Resolution presented by Juventud Socialista
(Argentina)

approved by the IUSY World Council 2017, on March, 25th.

Viewed:

That the National Executive Power of Argentina publicly stated the intention to lower the age of punishment, which is now established at 16 years of age.

Considering:

It is necessary to specify a juvenile penal system and not to lower the age of punishment.

The national government provides fragmented, and often scarce, responses to the various social problems resulting from dynamics of social consumption, economic gaps, and exclusion spirals. Segmented analysis and the reductionist approach to social security, or rather the lack of it, focused attention and built the problem of “insecurity.” In this way, the solution focuses on the prosecution of criminal acts, leaving aside those perspectives that point to the construction of security based on social inclusion policies. This biased and partial stance of the social complexities and life trajectories of citizens living on national soil provided the basis for trying to “hide” what the economic system is not willing to incorporate and the National State seems to want to see.

So who do you want to punish? The participation in criminal acts of minors, and their media commercialization, fed the construction of an easily identifiable and stigmatizing subject: young people, mainly men, poor and with “Beanie”, of the peripheral zones of the big cities. However, according to data from the Secretariat of Childhood and Adolescence of the Nation and Unicef Argentina of 871 young people deprived of their freedom by age, 90.6% are between 16 and 17 years old, and 9.4% are boys considered Not punishable under Argentine law. Therefore, lowering the age of punishment would only imply an effective change in the situation of 82 children under 16 deprived of liberty throughout the country.Lowering the age of punishment, concentrates the debate around the age in which a person can be subjected to a criminal process and therefore liable to be punished, leaving out the discussion about the rights and guarantees of each one of them. Children and adolescents. In this way, it undermines the incorporation in 1994 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child as an international treaty with constitutional hierarchy. This possibility of lowering the age not only ignores the signed agreements but also regresses in the paradigm of a State guaranteeing rights to infants, recognized until the age of 18, and youth.

Lowering the age of punishment, concentrates the debate around the age in which a person can be subjected to a criminal process and therefore liable to be punished, leaving out the discussion about the rights and guarantees of each one of them. Children and adolescents. In this way, it undermines the incorporation in 1994 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child as an international treaty with constitutional hierarchy. This possibility of lowering the age not only ignores the signed agreements but also regresses in the paradigm of a State guaranteeing rights to infants, recognized until the age of 18, and youth.

Although the national State, through Framework Law 26.061, is in line with the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, criminal liability of children and adolescents is regulated by the old Decree Law 22.278 / 80 Of the last military dictatorship. Establishing that only those over 16 years old are punishable when they are crimes of public action and whose custodial sentence exceeds two years.

In addition, it grants discretion to judges, who may dispose of the child if they consider that the child is in a state of material or moral abandonment or presents behavior problems, proceeding to the separation of their family nucleus or hospitalization for the time they consider relevant. The law does not provide for any of the procedural safeguards provided for in our National Constitution and in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, such as the principle of legality, innocence, the right of defense, equality before the law, Humanity, deprivation of liberty as an exception, lesivity, etc.

The numerous and constant criticisms, the declarations of unconstitutionality of the law made by many judges, and the enormous cases of violations of human rights still under 16 years (despite the fact that the law says they are not punishable) have not served to Sanction a juvenile criminal law that leaves aside the old tutelary and inquisitive paradigm prevailing in the current law.

We must assume, beyond the conjuncture, the criminal-juvenile issue as a problem that necessarily requires political solutions. It is essential to diagram a juvenile criminal regime that is respectful of human rights, the guarantees established in the constitution and international treaties, which considers the confinement as an exception, as a last option.

We have to think about childhoods and youths, their life trajectories, the context in which they develop and their opportunities. The children, adolescents and young people of our country must become subjects of rights. It is from an active state that it thinks with and from the young public policies oriented to its social inclusion, to the development of the participation, the enjoyment of the public spaces, the accessibility to the cultural languages, the access to the public education and majors Opportunities in your life project that will reinforce social security, guarantee rights, provide greater opportunities and re-distribute income.

It will be then, when instead of discussing the decline in the age of punishment we begin to think propositively in guaranteeing equal rights and diminishing social inequalities.

If the problem is the children, the problem is everyone. And if we think that the solution to social problems will come by lowering the age of punishment or increasing penalties, then we will fail in the attempt once again.

The IUSY World Council resolves:

Support the campaign called “No to the Low” to stop the attempt by Argentina’s national government to lower the age of punishment of children. It is recommended to discuss a national juvenile penal system that respects constitutional guarantees and international treaties. And promote an active state that thinks with and from the young public policies in order to promote participation, social inclusion and the development of a life project.