When children commit crimes, they have to be accountable for their actions. That is unless they are below the age of fourteen, in which case their parents or guardians have to take on the responsibility, according to article 58 of N°54/2011 of 14/12/2011 the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child.
For children aged from fourteen to eighteen, article 59 of the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child says that a judge’s decision ought to consider their welfare and personality during criminal proceedings. There must be an explanation linked to the child’s behavior, history and personality to justify the punishment given for the crime committed. If this isn’t done, the case may be reviewed.
Additionally, article 60 of the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child says that when criminal proceedings concerning a child are taking place, the child cannot be remanded. However, this rule does not apply to children who are repeat offenders or when the charges are punishable with a term of imprisonment of more than five years. Even then, the period in remand is not to exceed fifteen days.
If it is determined that the child needs to stay on remand, he/she is put under strict monitoring measures at his/her parents’ home or wherever she lives.
Article 61 of the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child says that a prosecutor can opt for a compromise between the child perpetrator, his/her parents and the victim of the crime. This is for crimes whose punishment does not result in more than five years in prison.
In sentencing a child to punishment, the goal is to avoid imprisonment as much as possible. This is according to article 62 of the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child. As such, a judge should suggest other alternatives such as delayed sentence or placing the child in a re-education centre in order to ensure his/her welfare. Full punishment is expected to be a rare occurrence.
For instance, article 63 of the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child says that a child who is liable for a term of imprisonment of less than two years can instead be placed in a rehabilitation centre.
Even the children that have been sentenced to imprisonment can be placed under rehabilitation upon request by authority of the prison if their file shows good behavior.
At all stages of criminal proceedings involving a child, his/her privacy must be protected. This is according to article 64 of the law relating to the rights and the protection of the child. The case is to be tried under camera by the relevant court. However, the identity of the child cannot be disclosed to the public or to the media.