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Sunday 15th of July 2018

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Puerto Rican professionals call for veto of new Juvenile Justice Law

Friday 15th of December 2017
Juvenile Justice in the world

Close to 40 recognised figures from legal, religious and artistic professional fields in Puerto Rico jointly published an open letter on the 13th December requesting that Governor Ricardo Roselló veto the new Juvenile Justice Law recently passed by the Legislative Assembly. Instigated by the Bar Association, along with its Commission on the Rights of Children, the letter explicitly requests the veto of Bills 1035 and 1036, describing these as a “serious attack on the human rights” of children in conflict with the law in Puerto Rico.

These professionals join a number who had previously criticised these Bills from an academic legal perspective, due to their proposed introduction of a juvenile justice system which does not consider the biological, social and psychological development of children. This system reduces the minimum age at which a child can be tried as an adult in court to 14 years, increases the types of crimes for which such trial as an adult is permitted and introduces longer sentences, alongside further provisions that emphasise punitive measures and adversely affect the rehabilitation of these young people.

Conversely, the Puerto Rican Senate has unanimously passed Senate Bill 489, which establishes a minimum age of criminal responsibility of 13 years, promotes mediation as a method of conflict resolution among young people, and illegalises the handcuffing of children during their appearances in court and the use of solitary confinement, along with other measures more in line with international standards of juvenile justice.

Further to requesting the Governor’s veto of Bills 1035 and 1036, these professionals recommend the formation of an interdisciplinary committee to formulate proposals for a new law based on scientific evidence, forming the foundation of a juvenile justice system tailored to the specific characteristics of children.

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