ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY FOR JUVENILES

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Situation

Initiated in May 2016, the campaign first established its goals and limitations:

1 – Obtain the abolition of the death penalty and life imprisonment for minors (at the time of the facts). The 13 states concerned by the death penalty (in their laws or practices) and the 68 states concerned by life imprisonment, have received a letter from Vivere asking them to validate or not, the information in our possession on their legislation. We received three answers. But the most important was to notify them of the existence of our movement and of its objective.

2 – Establish an international network of skills and references to support a relevant argument, specific for minors prosecuted or convicted, to develop the dissemination of these arguments in the international agenda. In addition, Vivere became a member of:

– the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, organizer of the 6th World Congress at which Vivere participated in June 2016 in Oslo, Norway

– the ‘Child Justice Advocacy Group’ network which brings together international NGOs specializing in juvenile justice which, by integrating Vivere, have placed the abolition of the death penalty as a primary objective.

3 – Take into account individual situations likely to be supported on the legal level, but also by an international mobilization, in agreement with our partners on-site. A first collaboration has been established with a small Pakistani NGO, “Redemption” (organization dedicated to the prisoners and their families). One of us went on-site in February 2018 to adjust the foundations of the collaboration begun a year earlier.

Objectives

By 31 December 2022, the 13 countries whose legislation still provides for the death penalty and the 68 countries providing for life imprisonment for children in conflict with the law (under 18 at the time of the crime), have abolished related articles in their respective criminal laws, and have taken measures and provisions to verify their application throughout their jurisdiction. 

The size and the modest resources of Vivere are obviously not enough to carry out, alone, an action of this scale. We call on the expertise and militant forces of as many organizations and qualified people as possible to share this fight.

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Achievements

With the help of students from the International School of Lausanne, Vivere launched an international petition addressed to the Human Rights Council to argue that the death penalty is still applicable for minors in a dozen of countries. The latter, however, have ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child which stipulates (Article 37) its absolute prohibition. By 31 December, the petition had acquired 11,145 signatures. https://www.change.org/p/conseil-des-droits-de-l-homme-des-nations-unies-abolition-de-la-peine-de-mort-applicable-aux-mineurs

In terms of advocacy, Vivere continued to challenge the UN authorities on the case of a Pakistani detainee who had been imprisoned for 19 years for a crime committed while he was a minor. A trial on appeal, then in the Supreme Court, followed by two requests for presidential pardon failed. Its execution can therefore occur at any time. We have asked the chairperson of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to intervene by name with the Pakistani president, which has been done, but to no avail so far.

In addition, Vivere’s argument (available on this site) has been sent to numerous interlocutors and disseminated to several specialized institutions in the field of juvenile justice at the international level. Vivere held an information booth at the International Conference of French-speaking Bar in Lausanne in December 2018. It was an opportunity to promote this campaign, thanks to numerous exchanges with lawyers from several countries.

Our search for partners in several other countries concerned by this situation is continuing. It is difficult to find partners in countries where civil society is either very weak, or insecure about its action and sometimes about its own existence on such a sensitive subject. We are hopeful, however, to succeed in 2019.