Minimum criminal age in Europe: UK case law and replies from the European Court of Human Rights : the development science perspective to the ECtHR judgements on a young defendants maturity in three UK cases

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Alaraudanjoki, Esa
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There is a discrepancy between developmental science’s knowledge on maturity and the willingness of some Council of Europe Member States to adopt it in their jurisprudence, manifested in a low minimum criminal age of responsibility (MCAR) and in the decisions of the courts. It has been shown that psychological maturity related human development (somatic, cognitive and psycho-social) occur beyond the legal age of responsibility, i.e. the minimum criminal age. The multidisciplinary analysis - the legal, criminological, and developmental science point of view - of three UK cases, which have got judgment from the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), indicate that the ECtHR and UK judiciary weighs more heavily towards retribution, deterrence, and protection of public, than towards emphasis on rehabilitation of young offenders together with reintroducing to society. The rehabilitation approach would be economically less costly for the society in the long term in minor youth crimes. The literature examined suggests that adolescents demonstrate adult levels of cognitive capability earlier (around 15-16 years old) than they evince emotional and social maturity (developing up to 28-30 years old). Disseminating this knowledge to Council of Europe Member States is seen as a priority with a suggestion of revising the MACR.
Second semester University: Ca’ Foscari University
European Court of Human Rights, juvenile justice, Great Britain