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France justice minister promotes criminal code crackdown on young offenders

[JURIST] French Justice Minister Rachida Dati [official profile, in French] pressed a bill to toughen the country's criminal code [transcript, in French] in an appearance before the National Assembly [official website, in French] Tuesday. The bill, which fulfills a campaign promise of French President Nicolas Sarkozy [official website, in French], will allow minors as young as 16 to be treated as adults when charges are serious. It will also establish minimum sentences for repeat offenders. Left-leaning groups criticized the bill, saying it will increase prison overpopulation without addressing the root causes of crime. They also denounced the minimum sentences for hampering judges' sentencing discretion.

Dati brushed off the criticism, saying the "most important tool in the prevention of crime is the certainty of punishment." The proposed bill has already been passed in the French Senate [official website]. AFP has more.

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