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Children And The Death Penalty Essay

1359 words - 5 pages

A. Henderson Fifty three years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "A country which repeatedly proclaims itself to be the world's most progressive force for human rights, heads a tiny circle of nations with a far less distinguished claim to fame- the execution of people for crimes they committed as children".1 Since the early 1990's, only six countries have executed people for crimes they committed when they were under 18: Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran and the United States. "The United States had executed more children than any of the other countries."2 The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which came into effect on March 23 1976, states that "sentence of death shall not be imposed for crimes committed by persons below eighteen years of age..."3. Since 1973, "160 children have been sentenced to death in the US".4 About one in fifty of the more than 3400 individuals on death row were convicted of crimes committed when they were below eighteen and in the last decade the government electrocution, gassing and lethal injecting of kids doubled. People in the United States should not be subjected to the death penalty since it is a human rights violation, and children do not have a high enough maturity level to fully understand their actions The use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders in the USA violates international law and the practice must be discontinued. Proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "the use of the death penalty is a human rights violation of premeditated cruelty that denies the right to life".5 On many occasions the US has ignored the Conventions on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Article 37(a) of the CRC states that "neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offenses committed by persons below eighteen years of age"6. The United States made it clear during the drafting of the Convention that it maintained its right to formulate a reservation on Article 37(a). Since they signed the CRC in February 1995, it has executed juvenile offenders and sentenced over twenty to death. "In 1987 the Inter-American Commissions on Human Rights declared that the USA had violated Article 1 of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man by executing two juvenile offenders,... The Commissions referred to the emerging principle of customary international law prohibiting such executions."7 When the United States ratified the ICCPR, "the government made it clear its intentions to continue this practice by explicitly reserving the right to impose the death penalty for crimes committed by those under eighteen"8. The United States has put itself outside the bounds of accepted international standards by executing an individual for crimes committed before the age of eighteen. Their doing so puts them in defying a global consensus against such executions. There is...

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