The green-black state government in Baden-Württemberg wants to review the age limit for minors in criminal law. This is reported by the SWR. Accordingly, Interior Minister Thomas Strobl and Justice Minister Marion Gentges wrote a letter to their counterparts in the federal government. In the letter, which is available to SWR, the two CDU politicians call for a review of the rule according to which children are only considered criminally responsible from the age of 14.
In the letter, Strobl and Gentges also refer to the case of twelve-year-old Luise from Freudenberg in North Rhine-Westphalia. Two 12 and 13 year old girls confessed to having killed Luise with numerous knife wounds. The recurring debate about the age limit is "very understandable," write Strobl and Gentges to Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) and Federal Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP).
It must be checked "whether today the spiritual and moral maturity of young people sets in earlier than in 1923". In the letter, they call for a current study on the "age-related development of insight and control ability". The setting of the age limit at 14 years was not scientifically justified even 100 years ago.
The girl's violent death in Freudenberg on March 11 shocked many people in the small town near Siegen. The public will probably never learn anything about the motives of those who confessed. Because of the lack of criminal responsibility, the investigators are extremely cautious about the background information. Both girls are in the care of the youth welfare office.
The issue of juvenile delinquency is currently under debate, and not just because of the latest act. In their letter, the two ministers emphasize that individual cases of serious crime by children are not per se suitable for justifying the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility. The security report for Baden-Württemberg presented on Thursday also states that the number of suspected children has increased by 33.4 percent compared to the previous year. A total of 10,490 children under the age of 13 became suspects in 2022.
“We have seen an increase in juvenile delinquency. We are now back at the level of the pre-Corona years, ”said Strobl to the German Press Agency. “We are taking a very close look at this development – especially with a view to the causes.” Media use by children and young people, which has changed significantly in recent years, will certainly play a role in this.
With a view to the required study, Strobl and Gentges write that “a viable basis is needed for a serious discussion about age limits in criminal law”. Age limits have also recently been lowered in other areas – for example in the area of voting rights.