The Human Rights Commission has today welcomed news that the youth justice age will be raised to 18.
Chief Commissioner David Rutherford says the move is a positive one and in line with recommendations the Commission made to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) earlier this year.
“In September, as part of our submission we recommended that the Government bring the upper age of New Zealand’s youth justice system into conformity with the CRC and that there was a review of the age of criminal culpability under section 22 of the Crimes Act 1961.
“This was supported by the Committee in their own recommendations. We are pleased to see that the Government agrees with this. Children's rights advocates in NZ have been calling for this change for years in order to bring New Zealand children's legislation more fully in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This is also a great acknowledgment of their efforts.
“Getting the youth justice age raised is an indication for the Government taking action on issues that are impacting our young people, however this work must continue.
“Both the Commission, in its original submission, and the CRC in its concluding observations, made recommendations that must be implemented if we are to really start addressing poverty, homelessness, inequalities and the protection of children from abuse and violence.”
These other recommendations included:
- A change to the name of the Vulnerable Children’s Ministry and proper resourcing of Children’s Teams to ensure that they can adequately respond to reported cases of child abuse
- Ensuring that laws, such as adoption laws, social security provisions and family court legislation properly take into account the best interests of the child.
- Changes to the Education Act to ensure that disabled children have a legally enforceable right to inclusive education
- Changes to laws and processes relating to surgery on disabled and intersex children to ensure that their rights and bodily integrity are better protected
- Urgent action to address inequalities in relation to health, housing and education in relation to Maori and Pasifica children
“Seeing the remaining recommendations implemented will require a cross Government commitment with the appropriate resourcing and funding, but will reap years of reward for our most at risk young people,” Mr Rutherford says.