Minors may face justice system
UMP proposals for 12-year-olds doing work in the community attacked from inside party
PLANS by President Sarkozy's UMP party for 12-year-olds to be brought into the criminal justice system have been criticised as a step too far by several of his own supporters.
Bernard Accoyer, the UMP president of the National Assembly, said that young people were "more precocious and the age of puberty was getting lower" which meant they should look again at the sanctions for young offenders but, he added, on the Télématin breakfast TV programme, 12 years "is, nevertheless, a little bit young".
The proposals would see a new Code Pénal justice framework being created specifically for minors to combat increasing juvenile delinquence and Jean-François Copé, the president of the UMP group at the assembly, said it was a bid to get rid of the "taboos and double-talk" that surround the issue. He pointed the finger at a "little Parisian circle" for the fudging of action.
Although it would not formally reduce the age of responsibility from 13 to 12 it would introduce specific penalties for youngsters with an emphasis on work in the community.
The proposal has been suggested for Sarkozy's election platform in the wake of the murder of 13-year-old Agnès at a boarding school in Chambon-sur-Lignon by a 17 year old fellow pupil who had a record for a sexual offence.
However, right-winger Nadine Morano, the minister for training and a Sarkozy loyalist, said it was not something she agreed with. The Meurthe-et-Moselle MP and former family minister added: "We are not going to reduce it to 12, nine or eight years..."
And another of Sarkozy's advisers, Nice mayor and MP Christian Estrosi, said in Le Nouvel Observateur he couldn't believe it. "We should not be stigmatising those who are still children." He has already proposed that juvenile delinquents and their parents should meet their local mayor to discuss their problems.
Judges have also stepped in with the Union Syndicale des Magistrates asked what was meant by the work in the community that was being proposed, pointing out that this could, under international law, not be imposed under the age of 16.