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End Inhuman Sentencing of Children Now!
CRIN together with other partners is launching a campaign for the prohibition and elimination of inhuman sentencing of children – defined to include sentences of death (1), life imprisonment and corporal punishment.
MENU: About / Human Rights Standards /Supporters / National Campaigns / Regional and Country Reports / CRIN Alternative Reports / Take part / What CRIN will do / Medical practitioners / Violations / Resources (including Advocacy toolkit)
About the campaign
Research suggests that in at least seven States*, child offenderscan lawfully be sentenced to death by lethal injection, hanging, shooting or stoning. In some States, children as young as 10 can be sentenced to life imprisonment. And in at least 40 States, children can still be sentenced to whipping, flogging, caning or amputation.
*Our research has found that there are a number of countries where executions are authorised in law but are no longer carried out.
Human Rights Standards
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 of 2006 further reiterated States' obligations to end these violent and extreme forms of sentencing.
- Read a detailed paper on human rights standards
- Read details of life imprisonment sentences by country
- Thomas Hammarberg, Former Commissioner for Human Rights for the Council of Europe
- Yanghee Lee, Former Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
- Professor Manfred Nowak, Former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
- Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, Author of the UN Study on Violence against Children, former Commissioner and Rapporteur on Children’s Rights, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Organization of American States
- Marta Santos Pais, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Violence against Children
- Dr Ghayasuddin Siddiqui, Founder Trustee, Muslim Institute
CRIN believes that achieving prohibition of inhuman sentencing demands intensive campaigning at both international and national level. CRIN is getting in contact with local organisations working on inhuman sentencing of children to support or develop national campaigns.
CRIN is creating pages for those national campaigns including a summary of the advocacy initiatives, useful resources and contacts of local partners. The pages will be continuously updated with reports on progress of the campaign.
CRIN is developing detailed country reports on States which still authorise 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.
CRIN is currently inviting governments and civil society organisations to comment and/or verify the content of the country reports: they will then be placed here and regularly updated with any news of progress.
Download the questionnaire on country reports and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Download the following country reports:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Brunei Darussalam
- India (Jammu and Kashmir)
- Saudi Arabia
- St Kitts and Nevis
- St Vincent and the Grenadines
- United Arab Emirates
- United States
Contact us on email@example.com if you would like to comment on country reports
CRIN submitted alternative reports to Human Rights Mechanisms (read CRIN's guide to mechanisms for children's rights) on inhuman sentencing in the following countries:
- Antigua and Barbuda (Universal Periodic Review)
- Botswana (Universal Periodic Review )
- India (Universal Periodic Review)
- Iran (Human Rights Committee)
- Pakistan (Universal Periodic Review)
- Tonga (Universal Periodic Review)
- Yemen (Human Rights Committee)
- Nigeria (Universal Periodic Review)
- Saudi Arabia (Universal Periodic Review)
- Malaysia (Universal Periodic Review)
- Yemen (Universal Periodic Review)
CRIN believes that international campaigning alone is unlikely to force governments to move quickly enough to prohibit inhuman sentencing. But we hope that coordination and solidarity – achieving linked campaigns internationally, across regions and nationally – can accelerate change. Ending inhuman sentencing requires law reforms being adopted by parliaments in many States.
Some States respond that such sentences are no longer implemented in practice for child offenders. But this is a completely inadequate response. While the law still authorises inhuman sentencing, the possibility of these gross violations occurring persists. The law has to be clear and clearly disseminated to the public and to all involved in justice systems.
What CRIN is Committing to
CRIN’s aim is to achieve a strong international and regional context for progress – and to support national campaigns in any other way we can. We are committed to providing the following:
A dedicated section of the CRIN website, including detailed reports for each State known to allow inhuman sentencing. This will be continuously updated with reports on progress of the campaign in all States and any international and regional developments.
Full information on the relevant international and regional human rights standards which require the immediate prohibition and elimination of all inhuman sentencing.
Engagement of international human rights bodies and activists in the campaign, including through the dissemination of position statements which can be quoted and used in national campaigns.
Information and advice on using legal action, including use of regional and international human rights mechanisms, to challenge inhuman sentencing when governments are not acknowledging and acting on their human rights obligations.
An advocacy toolkit with technical advice on developing a national strategy and campaigning for prohibition and elimination of inhuman sentencing.
Access to experienced children’s rights advocates for detailed advice and support.
Details of successful campaigns, key court judgements and other decisions.
Advice and support in using Treaty Body reporting procedures and the Universal Periodic Review process at the Human Rights Council to increase pressure on governments to stop and prohibit inhuman sentencing.
Involving Medical Practitioners
CRIN’s research into the laws authorising inhuman sentencing in many states requires the involvement of medical practitioners. Yet international standards of medical ethics condemn such involvement. We hope that organisations representing the medical professions will be involved in the campaign and intensify their advocacy to end inhuman sentencing.
The UN Principles of Medical Ethics relevant to the Role of Health Personnel, particularly Physicians, in the Protection of Prisoners and Detainees against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, adopted by General Assembly resolution 37/194 of 18 December 1982 and applicable to all health professionals, state that it is against medical ethics for health personnel to be in any relationship with detainees “the purpose of which is not solely to evaluate, protect or improve their physical and mental health”, (b) to use their knowledge and skills to assist in the interrogation of detainees “in any manner that may adversely affect physical or mental health”, or (c) to certify the fitness of detainees for any “treatment or punishment that may adversely affect their physical or mental health”. Furthermore, there should be no derogation from these principles on any ground.
This campaign is challenging specific grave and systematic violations of children’s rights. In challenging these particular violations, we must emphasise that we are not in any way reducing our condemnation of all violations of children’s rights and insistence on full implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other human rights instruments. States’ obligations in the field of juvenile justice go far beyond ending the availability of these inhuman sentences for child offenders; for example to develop separate, fully rights-compliant juvenile justice systems with a single focus on rehabilitation and reintegration, not retribution; to ensure that within these systems detention of children should only be used as a last resort, for the shortest possible time and only for reasons of public safety. And States are required to move immediately not only to stop whipping and flogging children as sentences of the courts, but to prohibit and eliminate all corporal punishment of children in all settings.
- CRIN: Inhuman Sentencing: Life Imprisonment (Life sentences in countries that practice inhuman sentencing)
- CRIN Advocacy Toolkit on Inhuman Sentencing
- Iran Human Rights: Death Penalty in Iran 2011
- Amnesty International: Executions of Juveniles Since 1990 (worldwide)
- SYRIA: UN rights panel voices alarm at reported torture of children
(1) For the purpose of this campaign, we are calling on the abolition of the juvenile death penalty, however, CRIN believes that the death penalty should be abolished for all individuals regardless of their age.