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China lowered the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 12 years for crimes committed intentionally, serious and violent, according to Chinese media.

The Channel News Asia network said that the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China approved an amendment that holds criminal responsibility for any 12-year-old child who commits murder or rape or causes injuries that lead to death or severe disabilities by harsh means. 

The approval came after a third review by the committee, and the amendment will be effective from March 1.

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The commission maintains the age of 16 for criminal responsibility for most other crimes not related to murder or rape.

It is reported that China is facing criticism from human rights organizations because of the suppression of freedoms and the emphasis on minorities in the country.

Foreign experts accuse Beijing of detaining at least one million Muslims in Xinjiang in “re-education camps”. But Beijing has spoken of “vocational training centers” aimed at weaning the population away from religious extremism.

And the Uyghurs in China, who are Muslims of Turkish descent, have resented decades of Chinese rule.

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