Buenos Aires Times

argentina CRIME AND SECURITY

Youth crime reform an ‘outstanding debt,’ says Milman

Congress looks set to vote on a bill in February to lower the age of criminal responsibility to 15.

Saturday 12 January, 2019
Gerardo Milman.
Gerardo Milman. Foto:Cedoc

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Gerardo Milman, the second-in-command at the national Security Ministry said this week that the Mauricio Macri administration’s move to lower the age of criminal responsibility to 15 is one of the state’s “long outstanding debts to society.”

Congress looks set to vote on a bill in February to lower the age of criminal responsibility to 15. According to wid e s p r e a d r e p o r t s , t h e government’s initial proposal was to lower it to 14 but, following internal disagreements and an exchange of opinions outside its ranks, the government chose to modify its intentions.

Milman, the Cabinet chief of the Security Ministry led by minister Patricia Bullrich, told Perfil this week there was a social consensus in favour of reducing the age of criminal responsibility, which currently stands at 16.

“The idea is that the State should have a different approach for criminals younger than 15,” Milman told journalist Fermín Filloy in an interview, confirming that “it was going to be [proposed to lower it to] 14 but it is now 15.”

“The proposal is for the State to be able to respond if a youth has committed a crime, avoiding a situation in which he or she begins their criminal history [by committing] common crimes and ends up committing worse crimes,” he said in reference to measures intended to reform and re-educate young offenders.

‘NO RESENTMENT’

Milman described the government’s motivation as an attempt to improve “the psychology” of these people.

In regards to internal debate about lowering the age of criminal responsibility, Milm a n a d d e d t h a t t h e government’s bill “was debated in its various forms in the Justice, Social Development and Security Ministries.”

“Each one has its own perspective,” he revealed.

Milman said the government had also engaged with “social organisations” on the matter without naming them.

“There is no resentment. Everybody sees it from his or her own perspective, from the shared need to ensure criminal activity by youths is addressed,” he said.

“We believe that all the measures we have taken, which are many, enjoy broad social consensus. There are always civic society groups with ties to previous government that have a vision about security which is different to ours: abolitionism, protecting the perpetrators instead of prioritising the victim and the everyday citizen,” Milman declared. “For us, it’s the opposite.”

“In 2015, there were no crime statistics, we were forced to re-establish them,” he added. “Today there are 23 percent fewer murders in the country.”

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