Deficiencies in the Children Act 2001

children act 2001

Mr Justice Tony Hunt has raised issue with the sentencing provisions contained in the 2001 Children Act stating that the Act in its current form does not provide satisfactory latitude for the sentencing of children convicted of serious offences.

The criticism arose in the course Mr Justice Hunt’s sentencing of a child who was found guilty of the murder of Urantsetseg Tserendorj who suffered stab wounds to the neck while returning from work in Dublin’s IFSC in 2021.

As a minor the child was not subject to the mandatory life sentence which arises on murder convictions. The Judge indicated that a detention order for life with a review after a thirteen year period would be appropriate in the circumstances.

However the legislation in its current form does not allow for a Judge to suspend part of the detention period when such a review arises. The Judge described this anomaly as a “yawning-gap” in the legislation and agreed to adjourn the sentencing until the 22 February to await a potential intervention from the Oireachtas.

Acting Minister for Justice Simon Harris TD has said that his department is examining the issue closely. We would hope that this examination would encompass some of the other anomalies in the Act. For example the arbitrary phenomenon whereby children who are under the age of 18 when an alleged offence occurs losing the benefit of the protections afforded in the Act if they happen to “age-out” and reach 18 before the prosecution commences.

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