Unicef cites Philippines child-friendly laws

THE United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef)  yesterday lauded the Philippines for creating child-friendly laws and policies aimed at protecting them against all forms of violence and harm as the world celebrates the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has also commended the Philippines for having a high minimum age of criminal responsibility.

“As the world celebrates the 30th Anniversary of the Convention, the Philippines has reasons to celebrate with pride. Child-friendly laws and policies introduced over the years reflect the commitment to protect children against all forms of violence and harm, and to nurture them in every stage of their life,” the UNICEF said.

The Unicef stressed  “in particular, the United Nations commends the Philippines for having set the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) at 15 in the JJWA, which aims to address erring children through rehabilitation and restoration rather than imprisonment.”

It has pointed out in its authoritative interpretations that state parties should not reduce the minimum age of criminal responsibility, if its current penal law sets the minimum age higher than 14 years.

Recently, some sectors have suggested to lower the MACR to 12, which the UNICEF said would undermine the gains in setting up a restorative, child-sensitive system that seeks not to detain children but to reintegrate them back to society without criminalizing them.

Retaining the MACR at 15 years would show leadership and commitment to children and put the Philippines at par with countries leading on this issue around the world, UNICEF explained.

UNICEF added retaining the MACR would also appear to stand in unity with a majority of Filipinos who are in favor of the MACR remaining at 15 according to the latest Social Weather Stations national survey and many other stakeholders engaged in the current debates.

In 1989, world leaders made a historic commitment to the world’s children by adopting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.