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Only 3 pct of juvenile offenders criminally punished after committing serious crimes: data

Only 3 percent of juveniles aged 14-18 are criminally punished after committing serious crimes, such as murder and rape, with the rest referred to youth correction institutions and community service programs, court data showed Wednesday.Rep. Kang Min-…

Only 3 percent of juveniles aged 14-18 are criminally punished after committing serious crimes, such as murder and rape, with the rest referred to youth correction institutions and community service programs, court data showed Wednesday.

Rep. Kang Min-kuk of the ruling People Power Party released the Supreme Court data, raising concern that such light punishment hurts judicial justice, ignores victims' pain, and can be abused as a means to get away with serious crimes.

In South Korea, juvenile offenders aged 10-13 are sentenced to "protective dispositions" designed for reformation, while those aged 14-18 can be punished either with protective dispositions or official punishment such as prison terms.

According to the court data, however, most of the offenders in the older age bracket are also given protective dispositions, such as lectures, community service programs and youth correction institutions. Punishment with protective dispositions leaves no criminal records.

Between 2017 and 2022, a total of 18,084 cases of five major crimes, such as murder, robbery and rape, were committed by juveniles aged 14-18, but only 3.1 percent of them, or 567 cases, received criminal punishment, according to the data.

The rest of the 17,517 cases, or 96.9 percent, were given protective dispositions.

"There are growing concerns the protective disposition system is undermining judicial fairness, as it is effectively used as a means to avoid criminal punishment," Kang said. "Giving impunity to serious juvenile criminals amounts to ignoring victims' pain."

To address this issue, Kang added that he proposed a revision to the Juvenile Act aimed at excluding juvenile offenders charged with murder, robbery, rape, indecent act by compulsion and special violence from being eligible for protective dispositions.

Source: Yonhap News Agency