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We are glad to inform you that after our pleasant experience with the Italian blog, the IIMA Human Rights Office has decided to open a new blog in English.

On this blog, you may follow our main activities with the United Nations and its mechanisms for the protection and promotion of human rights, as well as news from the UN bodies and IIMA offices in different countries related to the right to education.

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The Rights of Children whose are parents sentenced to the Death Penalty or executed

When the parent of a child is sentenced to death or executed, the child’s mental health is damages and their physical heath is often put at risk. A child will often experience discrimination especially where the parent’s sentence is publicly known.
As the death penalty disproportionately affects those who are poor or marginalized groups, discrimination can be exacerbated. The effect on children can be drastic as the child can be orphaned or left without the care and support of a parent. Sometimes children may have to stop their education and begin working to support themselves. This situation can make the children susceptible to abuse, neglect, and exploitation.
In some nations, the inmate and inmate’s family are not informed about the execution.
            In a panel discussion before the Human Rights Council on September 11, 2013 experts from varying fields discussed the harmful effects of the use of the death penalty on the children of those executed or sentenced to death. Mr. Remigiusz Henczel, President of the Human Rights Council, moderated the panel. Before the panel began Ms. Flavia Pansieri, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, gave an opening address providing an overview of the issue. She reminded the panel that where the death penalty is not abolished, the State must at a minimum follow international law, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Where the death penalty is used, the nation must consider the consequences of its use on society at large, including children and the family of those who are sentenced to death.
The panel began with Mr. Jorge Cardona Llorens, member of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, focused on the requirement of a State to consider the “best interest of the child” in all matters that directly or indirectly affect a child, including when a parent is sentenced to death. Because the interest of the child must be a primary concern, he reasoned that the imposition of the death penalty against a parent would rarely, if ever, be imposed because it is clearly against the best interest of the child based on its negative effects. Dr. Sandra Jones, a social worker whose research is primarily focused on children of death row parents, took the floor next. In her experience, the children withdraw and isolate themselves from peers and family members and because of this they are unable to fully grieve while their parents are awaiting death and after. Ms. Nisreen Zerikat, from Jordan’s National Center for Human Rights, said that even a moratorium on the death penalty has a severe impact on children because they are unsure when their parent will be executed. She also suggests that the government and NGOs work with children’s schools to prevent bullying by other children and by teachers. Francis Ssuubi commented his work running a program in Uganda for children whose parents had been executed or sentenced to death. He explained that children faced an increased risk of being sacrificed because of accusations witchcraft and became vulnerable to attacks and rape because no one is available to protect them.
The interactive dialogue of Member States and NGOs mostly focused on calling for an abolition of the death penalty because it is a violation of human rights and because of its affect on children. Italy mentioned its concern that by killing parents through the death penalty, the children are more likely to become criminals themselves.
Over all this panel and interactive dialogue shined a light on a victim of the death penalty that is often forgotten and ignored by society. These children become very vulnerable and need our support and care. Hopefully from this dialogue, States will change the way they approach children of parents who are subject to the death penalty and treat them as victims.

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