The last hold outs: ending the juvenile death penalty in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Pakistan and Yemen
In the recent past the United States, a country which in 2005 had 70 juvenile offenders on death row, has implemented the ban on the death penalty for juvenile offenders. In March 2005 the US Supreme Court ruled the execution of juvenile offenders illegal because it violated the US Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Yet since January 2005 five other countries are known to have executed at least 32 juvenile offenders: Iran (26), Saudi Arabia (2), Sudan (2), Pakistan (1), and Yemen (1). In Sudan, Yemen, and Pakistan, laws prohibiting the death penalty for crimes committed by persons under age 18 are not always implemented. Sudan has yet to clarify conflicting legislation for the north and autonomous south, while Pakistan has yet to issue regulations needed to implement the ban in all parts of its territory. But the prohibition on the juvenile death penalty is absolute in international and customary law, and applies even in times of war.
Recommendations from the report include that:
- governments in states that have yet to prohibit the juvenile death penalty should ban capital punishment on persons who were under 18 at the time of the crime
- governments must also immediately implement a moratorium on all executions of persons convicted of crimes committed before age 18, pending passage of legislation banning the juvenile death penalty
- governments in states that have banned the juvenile death penalty should promote universal birth registration
- the United Nations should support the efforts of governments and civil society to ensure the fundamental rights of children in conflict with the law.