Estatisticas da Justiça de Menores (Portugal)

Concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child: Portugal

Codigo Penal, Universidade Católica Lisboa

Justice Ministry may push to lower age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 12 for 'serious' crimes (Czech Rep.)

Call for rethink on age of criminal responsibility (NZ)

Japan Shocked by Brutal School Murder

Zigeunerbanden am Werk; Kriminelle Kinder
Von Thomas Meier, Zürich

The Age of Criminal Responsibility
by Gregor Urbas (Australian Institute of Criminology)

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

International standard (Beijing Rules): Age of Criminal Responsibility should be determined by emotional, mental, intellectual maturity and that it not be set too low.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child: Age should be guided by best interest of the child.

Old enough to be a criminal?

No age of innocence: Justice for children

The Age of Criminal Responsibility in Hong Kong

Age of criminal responsibility  
Minimum age at which children are subject to penal law in countries with 10 million or more children under 18 years old
Mexico *6-12
Bangladesh 7
India 7
Myanmar 7
Nigeria 7
Pakistan 7
South Africa 7
Sudan 7
Tanzania 7
Thailand 7
United States **7
Indonesia 8
Kenya 8
UK (Scotland) 8
Ethiopia 9
Iran ***9
Philippines 9
Nepal 10
UK (England) 10
UK (Wales) 10
Ukraine 10
Turkey 11
Korea, Rep. 12
Morocco 12
Uganda 12
Algeria 13
France 13
Poland 13
Uzbekistan 13
China 14
Germany 14
Italy 14
Japan 14
Russian Federation 14
Viet Nam 14
Egypt 15
Argentina 16
Brazil ****18
Colombia ****18
Peru ****18
Congo, Dem. Rep. -
 *Most states 11 or 12 years; age 11 for federal crimes.  
  **Age determined by state, minimum age is 7 in most states under common law.   Others
 ***Age 9 for girls, 15 for boys.  
****Official age of criminal responsibility, from age 12 children's actions are subject to juvenile legal proceedings.  
Sources: CRC Country Reports (1992-1996); Juvenile Justice and Juvenile Delinquency in Central and Eastern Europe, 1995; United Nations, Implementation of UN Mandates on Juvenile Justice in ESCAP, 1994; Geert Cappelaere, Children's Rights Centre, University of Gent, Belgium.

Table from:
(Some information was updated by Dr. Schweizer)


Scandinavian countries:
Age of criminal responsibility is 15 and up to 18 are handled by social service oriented system with invocation of incarceration only as a last resort.


Children of under 18 years of age are considered to be minors for the purposes of criminal law.
Minimum age of criminal responsibility is 7 but efforts under way to raise it to 10.
Different provisions in the criminal code deal with children from 7(10) to 15, and from 15 to 18.

Longest sentence for 15-18 year olds is one year

Important Concepts/Information:

Countries around the world are re-examining their minimum ages for criminal responsibility

The gov'ts reaction to serious/heinous crimes committed by minors is a re-focus on the age of criminal responsibility

The age of criminal responsibility in the U.S. is determined/set by the individual states

The majority of states in the U.S. have no set minimum age of criminal responsibility

The Swiss juvenile justice system severely limits incarceration for minors

The Beijing rules provide guidance for setting the age of criminal responsibility without advocating a specific age.

Heinous crimes committed by children are not new but more publicized today.