© Helder Loureiro Alves da Silva
The Ombudsman for Children and Youths (OKAJU) has published its official opinion on the reform of Luxembourg's youth protection and juvenile justice acts, arguing that the age of criminal responsibility should not be lowered to 13 years.
Ombudsman Charel Schmit has appealed to the government to consider the opinion in due time so that the draft bill can still be put up for vote in the Chamber of Deputies before the end of the legislative period.
He described the reform as a paradigm shift, but drew attention to the fact that a number of adjustments still need to be made so that nothing stands in the way of the law being passed.
One aspect that Schmit criticises in the government's proposal is the reduction of the age of criminal responsibility from 14 to 13 years: "We call on the Chamber to not carry this amendment, but take responsibility and remove this flaw from the text and set the age at least at 14. From our perspective, 15 or 16 would also be acceptable. Imagine sending a 13-year-old to juvenile prison, that is counter productive in terms of working with youths."
Schmit further made the case that every organisation working with youths needs a protection concept, which should also be regulated with the new reform. At present, only government-operated institutions are required to have such a concept.
The ombudsman has not given up hope that the reform can still be passed before the next elections. However, all depends on the political will of the Chamber, concluded Schmit.