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Death penalty: Council of Europe, “traumatic effects on children”. 19,000 sentenced to death, at least 690 executions in 2018

(Strasbourg) Tomorrow, 10 October, is the World Day against the Death Penalty. Since it coincides with the 30th anniversary of the international Convention on the Rights of the Child, the focus will be on the “violations of the rights of children whose parents have been sentenced to death or executed”. As the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Council of Europe (CoE) highlights in a statement, “these children, who are often forgotten and socially disadvantaged, can suffer trauma at any stage in the process leading up to the parent’s execution”: this is an “emotional and psychological burden” that can “violate their rights”. To date, over two-thirds (142) of the world’s countries have abolished the death penalty or have not applied it for at least ten years. In 2018, at least 690 executions were recorded and at the end of 2018, at least 19,000 people had been sentenced to death. The Committee deplores the fact that “countries which have co-operation status with the CoE (United States, Jordan, Japan, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, and Belarus) continue to hand down death sentences and/or carry out executions”. It calls on them to “give paramount importance” to the “best interests of the child” when sentencing a parent to death and to uphold the prohibition on applying the death penalty to anyone under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged offence.

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