Statement regarding The 8 March Principles

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) recently published a new set of legal principles to address the harmful human rights impact of unjustified criminalization of individuals and entire communities. The document, known as The 8 March Principles, was elaborated and endorsed by lawyers from around the world and sets out a human rights-based approach to criminal laws typically penalizing conduct associated with sex, reproduction, drug use, HIV, homelessness and poverty.

The commitment of the United Nations to fighting the sexual exploitation of children and the content of The 8 March Principles have subsequently been seriously misrepresented on a number of social media and websites. The 8 March Principles do not call for the decriminalization of sex with children, nor do they call for the abolition of a domestically prescribed minimum age of consent to sex. Indeed, the ICJ stresses that States have a clear obligation under international law to protect children from all forms of abuses, such as child sexual abuse, including through the criminalization of such conduct.

The 8 March Principles are aimed at offering a clear, accessible and operational legal framework and practical legal guidance to parliamentarians, judges, prosecutors and advocates to address the harmful impact of criminalization of certain conduct on health, equality and other human rights. They are based on general principles of criminal law and international human rights law and standards.

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