Justice Minister Thalatha Athukorale presented the proposal to amend the Code of Criminal Procedure Act No 15 of 1979 (Consequential amendment to increasing the minimum age of criminal responsibility).
Cabinet papers to amend the penal code to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility had also been presented on May 12 and October 14, 2017.
The proposal, the minister had pointed out, also has the effect of relieving a child even between the ages of 12 and 14, “who has not attained sufficient maturity of understanding to judge the nature and consequence of his conduct of criminal responsibility”.
The bill will also confer discretion on a magistrate to determine whether such child has the “required degree of cognitive maturity to form the requisite intent or to entertain requisite knowledge which serves as the main criteria of the impugned offense committed by the relevant child”.
In order to assist the magistrate to make this determination, it would be necessary to subject the child to an appropriate form of psychological assessment by a government medical officer or other expert in the relevant field.
Further on June 7, 2016, an amendment to the criminal procedure code was brought and instructions given to the legal draftsman to draft legislation to enable such child to be subjected to an examination by a government medical officer to determine whether the child has attained sufficient maturity of understanding to judge the nature and consequence of his conduct on the occasion of his committing the alleged offence and whether the child is in need of therapeutic intervention.