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HRW: Yemeni child offenders face execution

March 4, 2013 at 10:32 AM

SANAA, Yemen, March 4 (UPI) -- The government of Yemen must stop seeking and then carrying out the death penalty for juvenile offenders, Human Rights Watch said Monday in a report.

President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi should immediately reverse execution orders issued for three alleged youthful offenders who have exhausted all appeals and could face death by firing squad at any time, the organization said in a release.

"'Look at Us with a Merciful Eye': Juvenile Offenders Awaiting Execution on Yemen's Death Row," documented that at least 22 individuals were sentenced to death despite evidence that they were under age 18 at the time of their alleged crimes.

During the last five years, Yemen executed at least 15 young men and women who said they were under age 18 when they committed their crimes, HRW said.

"President Hadi should break with Yemen's past of arbitrary justice and state-sanctioned violence by reversing the execution orders of the three young men with signed execution decrees," said Priyanka Motaparthy, children's rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. "Ending executions of juvenile offenders is a clear and straightforward way for Yemen's government to show it honors its human rights commitments."

Hadi should order a review of all death sentences when there is doubt the individual was at least 18 when the offense was committed, and commute sentences when evidence about an offender's age is inconclusive or in conflict, Human Rights Watch said.

Yemen's penal code and international law prohibit the execution of juvenile offenders. Since 1994, Yemen's penal code has banned the execution of juvenile offenders and stipulates a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for individuals under 18 who commit capital offenses.

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