Children as young as 9 could be jailed in the Philippines for certain crimes under a proposed law backed by the president, sparking concern Monday, November 21, from the United Nations and rights groups.

President Rodrigo Duterte's allies have been pushing to pass laws by December that would restore the death penalty and lower the minimum age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 9.

Duterte won May elections largely because of a vow to kill tens of thousands of drug dealers, also promising on the campaign trail to close a loophole in the juvenile justice system that he said allowed traffickers to use minors as narcotic couriers. 

"Adult criminals knowingly and purposely make use of youth below 15 years of age to commit crimes, such as drug trafficking," Pantaleon Alvarez, one of the proposed law's main backers, said in an explanatory note.

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Thumbnail: Flickr CC Matthias Müller