Reducing the age of criminal responsibility for cyber-crime

The new law ‘On Introducing Changes and Supplements to Some Codes of the Republic of Belarus’ includes criminal responsibility for cyber-offences from the age of 14
The new law ‘On Introducing Changes and Supplements to Some Codes of the Republic of Belarus’, which came into force on April 4th, includes criminal responsibility for cyber-offences from the age of 14 (rather than 16), the use of video-conferencing in Belarusian courts to question witnesses, and financial penalties for placing pirated media content (such as songs and films) online



Online questioning


Questioning witnesses on criminal and civil cases via video-conferencing has been long applied in economic law but is a recent addition to civil procedural cases. The First Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Court, Valery Kalinkovich, underlines that there is no question of the usefulness of the move.

It is only a matter of equipping courts. He tells us, “We’re talking about video-conferencing, rather than Skype, although we’ll probably have to use Skype for some time, until the necessary equipment has been installed.”

Young hackers take note


Fraudulent use of IT will now be punishable by imprisonment for offenders aged 14 years (rather than 16), as the number of such crimes is on the rise. Clearly, a deterrent is needed. Those aged 14 are already subject to criminal trial for cases of murder, selling drugs, rape, theft, blackmail and robbery. From April 3rd, those found guilty of hacking crimes may face up to three years’ imprisonment, rising to seven years for large-scale theft, and up to 16 years for major fraud.

Reducing the age of criminal responsibility for cyber-crimes aims to act as a deterrent, underlines the Head of the Expert-Legal Department of the General Prosecutor’s Office, Natalia Matveeva. She explains, “Cyber-criminals are becoming younger all over the globe. We can no longer ‘indulge’ such behaviour, which can prove a quick way for children to gain money. Belarusian statistics show that, last year, 2,036 of all high-tech crimes involved fraud using computers and, every year, around 30 teenagers are found ‘guilty’. We hope the adopted law will inspire young criminals to think better of their actions online.”

By Lyudmila Gladkaya
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