Campaign to end inhuman sentencing of children

The panel at the debate on the inhuman sentencing of children. Photo: Norway UN/Emma K Lydersen

The panel at the debate on the inhuman sentencing of children. Photo: Norway UN/Emma K Lydersen

Norway’s UN Ambassador Morten Wetland chaired a debate on how to end the inhuman sentencing of children on October 14, 2010. The discussion, that took place at the UN in New York, marked the launch of a campaign by the Child Rights Information Network (CRIN).

Research for the campaign suggests that in at least seven states children can be sentenced to death by hanging, shooting or stoning. In some states, children as young as ten can be sentenced to a life in prison. Children can be sentenced to whipping, flogging, caning or even amputation in more than forty States.

During the meeting, Ambassador Wetland stressed that Norway remains a strong supporter of the efforts to stop all forms of violence against children.

Marta Santos Pais, the UN Special Representative on Violence Against Children said, “As the international community celebrates twenty years of implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is more urgent than ever that countries bring their laws in line with human rights standards and ensure that no child is subjected to these forms of punishment.”

Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Rapporteur on Children’s Rights for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, is the author of the UN Study on Violence Against Children of 2006.

“We are not talking about random acts of illegal violence, but extreme violence which is authorized in state laws, sentences passed by adult judges in today’s courts, sentences carried out by a range of adults – adults paid to execute children, to tie them down and flog them, to lock them up and guard them in prison – in some cases literally for their lives,” Mr. Pinheiro said.

Sentencing children to death, to life imprisonment and to corporal punishment has been consistently denounced by UN Treaty Bodies and Special Procedures and by regional human rights mechanisms as a violation of human rights. The UN Study on Violence Against Children, penned by Mr. Pinheiro, further reiterated States’ obligations to end these violent and extreme forms of sentencing.

Other panellists included Jo Becker from Human Rights Watch, Peter Newell from the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, and Veronica Yates from CRIN.

Child Rights Information Network (CRIN) is developing detailed country reports on States which still authorize inhuman sentencing of children. These reports include the text of relevant recommendations to prohibit and eliminate inhuman sentencing made by the Human Rights Committee, Committee against Torture, the Committee on the Rights of the Child and other Treaty Bodies.

In the coming weeks, CRIN will publish reports on countries that still have one or more of these inhuman sentences.

Source: Norway’s Mission to the United Nations

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