MANILA, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- A draft bill that would reduce the age of criminal liability from 15 to 9 in the Philippines has been under fire, the latest critic being the UN children's agency in the country.
Lotta Sylwander, the country representative of the United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF) in Manila, slammed the move as "wrong from every angle."
"If they grow up spending their teenage years in a prison, they most probably will be damaged for life," Sylwander told the British newspaper The Guardian last weekend.
The draft bill has been filed by two Philippine congressmen, who last year described "youth offenders who commit crimes knowing they can get away with it."
But Sylwander said a 9-year-old is simply unable to fully comprehend the consequences of a crime.
"Apart from the fact that it's against human rights, it's very unfair to a child, to punish them in such a harsh way as the criminal system would be, for something that they never understood was that serious," she told the newspaper.
Currently, children in the Philippines at the age of 9 and above are already liable to arrest and detention like adults but cannot be convicted.
It's unclear whether lawmakers would seek to apply the death penalty to children.