The Child Rights International Network (CRIN) has become aware of a statement made by Mahmoud al-Badawi, Chairman of the Egyptian Association for the Assistance of Juveniles and Human Rights calling for the reintroduction of the death penalty in Egypt for offences committed while under the age of 18. His comments can be read online through Albawaba News and Al Masry Al Youm.
As an organisation committed to the protection of children’s rights, CRIN feels obliged to challenge members of the children’s rights community when they fail to protect children, especially when this failure amounts to campaigning for the reintroduction of one of the most grotesque violations of children's rights.
The execution of child offenders - that is any person who was under the age of 18 at the time of committing a criminal offence - is a clear violation of international human rights law. The Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights both contain clear prohibitions on the death penalty for child offenders. The UN Human Rights Council and the UN Secretary-General have affirmed time and again the absolute prohibition in international human rights law against the execution of persons for crimes committed while under the age of 18.
The death penalty is a vile human rights violation when applied to anyone and an abuse that human rights organisations around the world are fighting hard to combat. The near elimination of the death penalty for children has been one of the great achievements of children’s advocates working on juvenile justice and the number of States that continue to execute children can now be counted on one hand. It is unacceptable for an organisation with a mandate to protect children’s rights to campaign in favour of reintroducing the death penalty for children.
Children’s rights advocates may reasonably disagree about how best to address children’s rights in the justice system, but the abolition of the death penalty for children cannot be negotiable.