• Jelena Kostić Institut za uporedno pravo, Beograd


age of criminal responsibility, prevention, minors



Recently, there has been talk at the national level about lowering the limits of criminal responsibility for juvenile offenders. In this way, it tries to increase the responsibility of minors and has a preventive effect on the awareness of minors. Although the possibility of lowering the age of criminal liability at the national level was considered, it seems that such a procedure would be met with numerous criticisms at the international level. The goal of our research was to consider the possibility of changing the criminal legislation in terms of lowering the age limit of criminal responsibility in relation to international standards and giving recommendations for the further development of standards in the area of juvenile delinquency prevention.



In this paper, we start from the assumption that it will not be possible without changing the approach at the international level, although we don’t reject the position that the age of criminal responsibility of minors should be lower, but not below 12 years of age when it comes to some particularly serious crimes such as which is e.g. murder or grievous bodily harm. In the first part of the paper, we first point out the solutions prescribed by the national legislation of the Republic of Serbia, with reference to the views of the relevant authors regarding the criminal (ir)responsibility of children. The second part contains a brief review of the treatment of juvenile offenders in different historical periods, as well as an analysis of international standards regarding the lower age of criminal responsibility. In the third part of the paper, solutions from comparative legislation are presented with reference to the recommendations of the UN Committee of the Rights of the Child, as well as the Manual for the Implementation of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, in which its provisions and the views of the said Committee are further explained. That is why three methods were used during the analysis: dogmatic-legal, comparative law and content analysis.



Based on the conducted comparative legal analysis, the conclusion is reached that there is a tendency to raise the lower limit of criminal liability. Any lowering of the limits of criminal responsibility at the national level, even for serious crimes, could be considered a violation of the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We believe that this could have a negative impact on the process of European integration, given that the European Commission’s special focus is on the rule of law.



Instead of lowering the limit of criminal responsibility, a number of preventive measures should be applied at the national level towards minors. Such an approach would require increased attention and continuous monitoring of children’s antisocial behavior both at the level of the family and at the level of the educational institution, and of course, in accordance with the needs, to intervene with adequate measures.


Keywords: age of criminal responsibility, prevention, minors


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