Chil­dren’s Com­mis­sioner in favour of giv­ing 16-year-olds right to vote

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

The Com­mis­sioner for Chil­dren be­lieves that giv­ing 16-year-olds the right to vote em­pow­ers young peo­ple to par­tic­i­pate in im­por­tant de­ci­sions that af­fect both them­selves and oth­ers. In this con­text, young peo­ple need to un­der­stand the value of their vote and its im­pact on so­ci­ety in gen­eral, the com­mis­sioner said in a state­ment.

It is thus now, more than ever, im­per­a­tive that ed­u­ca­tors, in­clud­ing par­ents, guardians and ex­tended fam­i­lies, take it upon them­selves to en­cour­age young peo­ple to think, crit­i­cise, com­mend and be full mem­bers of the so­ci­ety they live in. We should be aim­ing at a po­lit­i­cal so­ci­ety but not a par­ti­san one, where the is­sue car­ries weight rather than the politi­cian talk­ing about it, the com­mis­sioner said.

As a so­ci­ety, we need to ac­knowl­edge that at age 16, there are al­ready a num­ber of so­cial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties that are au­to­mat­i­cally as­sumed by an in­di­vid­ual. At 16 years of age, an in­di­vid­ual can, amongst oth­ers:

• act as a trader and run a busi­ness;

• open and op­er­ate a bank ac­count;

• draw up a will;

• be held crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble for any wrong­do­ing. More­over, if em­ployed, a 16year-old pays taxes, and should there­fore ex­pect rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

The Na­tional Chil­dren’s Pol­icy, launched last month, recog­nises that chil­dren should be ac­tive cit­i­zens who en­gage in the demo­cratic process, so­cial par­tic­i­pa­tion, en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivism and in­no­va­tion, vol­un­teer­ing and so­cial en­trepreneur­ship.

Fur­ther­more, the pol­icy en­cour­ages views pre­sented by chil­dren to be taken into ac­count through demo­cratic par­tic­i­pa­tion by ex­tend­ing full vot­ing rights to young peo­ple aged 16.

The UN Con­ven­tion on the Rights of the Child in­sists on the child’s right to have an opin­ion that is lis­tened to as well as the right to as­so­ci­a­tion and af­fil­i­a­tion with groups and or­gan­i­sa­tions of the child’s choice.

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