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Brazil lawmakers endorse reducing age of criminal responsibility

law11Brazilian lawmakers approved a constitutional amendment Thursday that would reduce the country’s age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 16 years of age.

With 323 votes in favor and 155 against, the first hurdle was cleared for the country to be able to charge people aged 16 and over as adults in cases of murder, rape and kidnapping.

The constitutional amendment, which is opposed by the leftist government of President Dilma Rousseff, the Catholic Church and the UN, still must clear several hurdles in both legislative bodies.

“We cannot let good people who pay taxes become victims of this fringe disguised as minors,” said deputy Andre Moura, a proponent of the change viewed as widely popular.

The approval of the measure comes just a day after a similar version of the amendment failed by five votes.

Moderate deputies switched their votes after changes were made to the text that reserved charging 16-year-olds as adults for a specific number of severe crimes.

A series of recent crimes committed by minors, including a stabbing death carried out by a teenager in Rio de Janeiro, boosted support for changing the law.

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