Colombia debates whether to seek harsher penalties for people between the ages of 14 and 17 who commit crimes, with Bogota Mayor Samuel Moreno speaking out in favor of the proposal.
Moreno said he was in favor of harsher penalties in the face of increasing youth violence in Colombia’s capital city in order to avoid impunity in such cases.
“It is regrettable that young people are committing acts of violent delinquency. A measure is necessary to guarantee that these situations don’t continue to occur and that there is no impunity. The modification of the Child and Adolescent code is open to debate, which the minister for the interior and justice himself already raised and it is something that needs to be very carefully determined,” Moreno said.
Colombian Minister for the Interior and Justice German Vargas Lleras proposed reforms to Colombia’s minors penal code last Friday, arguing that a 17-year-old is able to distinguish right and wrong and should be punished more harshly.
The president of the Bogota Council, Celio Nieves Herrera, said that the proposed reform would not change the circumstances that lead youths to commit crime in Bogota.
Moreno responded that penalties and rehabilitation required of minors are minimal and “unfortunately cases of offending minors become criminal issues for various reasons. That is why this discussion on the modification on the Children’s Code is welcomed.”
Police figures indicate that 3,587 minors were arrested in Bogota between January 1 and July 31 of this year, of whom 82% were male offenders. Robbery was the most common crime, followed by carrying illegal drugs, inflicting injury, carrying illegal fire arms and willful damage of property. The average age of minors arrested was 17.