Justice for minors in Luxembourg: Report File, 2000
Age of criminal responsibility: The age when you are criminally responsible is the same as the age when you reach adulthood, i.e. 18. Below this age, minors can only be taken into care, or undergo protection and education measures. However, criminal responsibility may be lowered to 16. If the Youth Court estimates that there is an “inadequacy in the young offender in care or undergoing protection or education measures”, the case may be sent to the public prosecutor.
Trials: The Luxembourgian Law of November 12th 1971 regarding protecting young people is modelled on the Belgian Law of 1965, but nevertheless has its own unique aspects. There is a special minors’ court in each region, known as the Youth Court. The Youth Court Judge can be involved in cases regarding protecting minors as much as prosecuting young offenders. If a young offender comes before court (in the case of minors under 16), the provisions of common law are applicable, but the sentence will not go into the court records. The Youth Court Judge, and in special circumstances the Magistrate or the Crown Prosecutor, can put the minor into provisional custody for the duration of the trial. The judge can order a personality study of the minor to be carried out, principally through a social study, medical, psychological and psychiatric examinations, behaviour observation or a professional counselling test.
Measures that can be applied to young offenders: Measures which could be taken regarding young offenders are relatively few, and comprise the following:
– Reprimand the young offender. The judge can then return the minor to his legal guardians and decide whether or not to monitor them in the future
– Allow the young offender to return home, but under surveillance
– Putting the young offender under surveillance in an institution/centre
– Sending the young offender to a State re-education centre (which may be on a conditional basis)
– Sending the young offender to a special centre if the medical examinations show an “inferior mental or physical state”.
– Sending the young offender to a State Detention Centre, if the minor shows dangerous behaviour and thus would not be suitable for ordinary centres.
The court can decide to let the minor return home under one of several of these conditions:
– the minor regular attends an ordinary or special school
– the minor completes a educational or philanthropic loan regarding his/her age and resources
– the minor submits themselves to educational and medical directives in a Special Education or Mental Health Centre.
Only when absolutely necessary, the minor may be put into provisional custody for a maximum of one month. It is currently expected that a closed youth section at the Socio-Educational Centre in Dreiborn will be reopened, in order to avoid young offenders having to go to prison. All of the measures (except those which respond to serious crimes) end when the youth reaches adulthood. Nevertheless, the Youth Court Judge can, with the agreement of the minor, and if it considered to be in the minor’s interest, extend the measures until the youth reaches the age of 21.
Points of reference: The Law of August 10th 1992 regarding protecting the youth, which replaced the law of November 12th 1971 (modelled on the Belgian law of 1965). The Luxembourgian government, adopted after the 1999 parliamentary elections, stated the need for a reform in how young people are protected.
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