Fall is my favorite time of year: the air is cooler, the leaves are pretty, Amnesty International student groups are back together again, and people start signing up for the Write for Rights Global Write-a-thon.
In this—the world’s largest human rights event—we use letters, cards and more to demand the human rights of individuals are respected, protected and fulfilled. We show solidarity with those suffering abuses and work to improve people’s lives.
Contrary to Katy Perry, 16 and 17-year old boys in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K or Kashmir) are not living in a Teenage Dream; they face the daily prospect of being detained indefinitely, without charges as adults under existing law in the state. The law, called the Public Safety Act is horrible enough.
But, the detention of children is in flagrant violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child of which India is a state party. You can take action now to urge the J&K government to do the right thing. The Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, promises to bring this up in the Monsoon session of the assembly so time is of the essence!
Tomorrow, Pennsylvania’s Superior Court is set to hear an appeal against an earlier decision to try 13-year-old Jordan Brown in an adult court.
Jordan is charged with killing Kenzie Houk, his father’s pregnant fiancée, in 2009, when he was 11 years old; he is charged with two counts of homicide.
Amnesty International has urged US authorities in Pennsylvania not to try Jordan in an adult court, as doing so could result in a violation of international law. If tried as an adult and convicted of first-degree murder, he would face life imprisonment without parole.
Jordan Brown is the youngest person known to Amnesty to be currently at risk of being sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. The US is the only country we know of in the world that pursues life imprisonment without parole against children – and it does so regularly. Currently there are at least 2,500 people who are serving life imprisonment without parole for crimes committed before they turned 18.
The USA and Somalia are also the only countries in the world that have not ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits life imprisonment without the possibility of release for crimes committed under the age of 18. Amnesty International is calling on the US to bring its laws in line with international standards on the treatment of children accused of criminal offenses.
It is shocking that anyone this young could face life imprisonment without parole, let alone in a country which labels itself as a progressive force for human rights.
Delara Darabi faces imminent execution. Like many sentenced to death in Iran, she was convicted of a crime committed when she was a child. Almost no other country in the world executes juvenile offenders, yet Iran has put 16 of them to death since the beginning of 2007. Iran’s death row continues to house scores of young men and women facing the noose for crimes that took place when they were under 18 years old. These include Abumoslem Sohrabi and Abbas Hosseini, whose executions may also be imminent.
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child forbids the death penalty for crimes committed by underage offenders, and the CRC is the most universally accepted human rights treaty there is. (Only Somalia, and the good ole USA have failed to ratify this no-brainer of a human rights instrument; thankfully the US Supreme Court found executing child offenders unconstitutional – by a 5-4 vote – back in 2005). Iran has accepted this treaty, so why is this still happening?