As juvenile delinquency and teenage gangs marked a rise in the country, the government is going to reduce the legal age of adulthood from 18 years by amending the Child Act 2013 so that legal actions can be taken against teens for serious offences.
Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque came up with the announcement after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Law and Order on Sunday afternoon, reports UNB.
He said the meeting held at the conference room of the home ministry presided over by him took the decision considering the incidents of juvenile crimes in the country.
Mozammel said different teen gangs have been indulging in various offences in the country. "So, in the context of our country, we think that some amendments should be made in the Children Act."
As per international law, he said persons up to 18 years of age are children, and action cannot be taken against them. "But the context of our country does not match with the international perspective."
Referring to the recent murder of a teacher by a below 18 years old tenth-grader student in Savar, the minister said action now cannot be taken against him as he is a child as per both the international and local laws.
"That's why we think this act needs to be amended for practical reasons. From that point of view, we have drawn the attention of our wise law minister and through him we're drawing the attention of the court," he said.
After the independence of the country, Mozammel said Bangabandhu enacted a law determining the age of children up to 14. "But it has now been made 18 years in accordance with international law. Considering that, we have sought the advice of the law minister on how to make new law in this regard."
Replying to a question, he said their meeting decided to amend the Children Act 2013. "I personally think that children should be up to 14 years of age. But no decision was taken at the meeting in this regard. We only decided to reduce it from 18 years."
The minister voiced concern that the number of teenage gangs is increasing while they are getting addicted to drugs. "Even, girls are also getting addicted to drugs, but they're very few in number."
Eight years back, the government enacted the Children Act 2013 repealing the 1974 Children Act with the aim of bringing the country in line with provisions of international instruments.
In the Act, the age of the child has been increased from 16 to 18 years.
As per the act, no child shall be sentenced to death and imprisonment for life or imprisonment, and only the Child Court is empowered to hold the trial of an offence if a child is a victim or a witness in a case.