• January 11, 2015


Although welcoming a move to introduce a new ‘appropriate adult’ scheme aimed at supporting young and vulnerable people during police interviews the Celtic League say the initiative is tarnished by the level at which the Island has set the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR).

In a letter to the Isle of Man Home Affairs Minister the Celtic League DOI says the Island, “judicially, has a bad track record in relation to its abuse of young people”

DHA letter text below:

“The Minister for Home Affairs
Mr Juan Watterson MHK
88 Woodbourne Road
Isle of Man


Dear Minister,

I read with interest reports that your Department (together with other Departments and agencies) is to introduce an ‘appropriate adult’ scheme with a view to supporting ‘young and vulnerable people during police interviews’.

Whilst any move to improve the application of the criminal justice system fairly is welcome it does seem somewhat disingenuous of the Manx government to trumpet this initiative, particularly as regards young people, when it insists on maintaining the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) at such an obscenely low level.

Even the press release accompanying the roll-out of this positive initiative conveys the information that children as young as ten can be treated as ‘offenders’ in this society.

The Isle of Man has a singularly bad track record when it comes to its attitude to children and the age of criminal responsibility. It clung on to caning and birching when most civilised societies had put it aside. It confined young people to its general jail until a public outcry both domestically and internationally forced change. In short this community, judicially, has a bad track record in relation to its abuse of young people and that bad record continues whilst the MACR remains at its current level.

Your new ‘appropriate adult’ initiative may be well intentioned but it is undermined by the early age at which this society deems it appropriate to involve children in the criminal justice system.

General Comment No 10 (Children’s rights in juvenile justice) 2007 says:

“32. Rule 4 of the Beijing Rules recommends that the beginning of MACR shall not be fixed at too low an age level, bearing in mind the facts of emotional, mental and intellectual maturity. In line with this rule the Committee has recommended States parties not to set a MACR at a too low level and to increase the existing low MACR to an internationally acceptable level. From these recommendations, it can be concluded that a minimum age of criminal responsibility below the age of 12 years is considered by the Committee not to be internationally acceptable. States parties are encouraged to increase their lower MACR to the age of 12 years as the absolute minimum age and to continue to increase it to a higher age level.

33. At the same time, the Committee urges States parties not to lower their MACR to the age of 12. A higher MACR, for instance 14 or 16 years of age, contributes to a juvenile justice system which, in accordance with article 40 (3) (b) of CRC, deals with children in conflict with the law without resorting to judicial proceedings, providing that the child’s human rights and legal safeguards are fully respected. In this regard, States parties should inform the Committee in their reports in specific detail how children below the MACR set in their laws are treated when they are recognized as having infringed the penal law, or are alleged as or accused of having done so, and what kinds of legal safeguards are in place to ensure that their treatment is as fair”

I would conclude by saying this is not some esoteric argument. Young people’s lives on this Island have been literally destroyed by their embroilment at to young an age in the criminal justice system.

Yours sincerely

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League

cc Chief Minister”

The Celtic League has repeatedly raised concerns about the MACR in all the Celtic countries (see links below from the main CL News Archive):



Related link about IOM appropriate adult initiative here:


cc Chief Minister

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information


Contact: (07624) 491609

(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

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