Changing environment, not lowering age for criminal liability, is key to addressing juvenile crime: PG Shameem

21 Jun 2024 | 11:55
PG Shameem

Prosecutor General (PG) Hussain Shameem has proposed relocating juvenile offenders from their current environments as a more effective solution than lowering the legal age for criminal liability.

His remarks come in response to Home Minister Ali Ihusan's April announcement that the current administration is considering reducing the age of criminal culpability from 15 to 12 years.

In a blog post, Shameem argued that children often commit offenses due to influences within their environment.

He suggested that relocating juvenile offenders to different environments would be a more effective strategy to prevent crime.

Shameem highlighted the lack of comprehensive research on this issue in the Maldives but noted that approximately 200 children are at risk of engaging in criminal activities, which could escalate into a national issue given the 1,500-2,000 individuals already involved in criminal activities in the country.

Shameem explained that relocating juvenile offenders would require time for transferring schools and utilizing state resources.

He stressed that this approach demands patience and perseverance, similar to the dedication required in educating one’s own children.

He described the investment in relocating juvenile offenders as significantly more cost-effective than incarceration and predicted better long-term outcomes.

Contrasting his view, Shameem acknowledged that some government and law enforcement officials advocate for reducing the legal age for criminal culpability to either 12 or 10 years.

He disagreed, asserting that social issues cannot be solved through criminal investigations, prosecutions, and imprisonment.

Seventy percent of those in prison are there due to drug-related issues,If prosecution and prison time were effective solutions, drug problems would not persist in the Maldives.

Shameem noted

Shameem argued that incarcerating juvenile offenders would expose them to further negative influences, likening it to placing children in a fire to protect them from getting burned.

He emphasized the importance of changing the environment to prevent juvenile crime.

Opportunities for quality education and vocational training should be provided to reduce their time spent with negative influences,

he stated

Shameem concluded by asserting that, just as we would not abandon our own children if they committed a crime, society should not give up on these children.

He emphasized that environmental change is a better and more cost-effective investment than juvenile detention and prison time.