Target: Government of Yemen
Goal: Protect juvenile offenders from being sentenced to death
Yemen is one of four countries, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Sudan, that has executed juvenile offenders in the last five years. Yemen’s 1994 penal code prohibits execution of child offenders in conjunction with international law, but in reality this law is largely ignored with 15 executions of juvenile offenders in the past five years. Most recently a 19-year-old girl who had allegedly committed murder at age 15 was executed by a government firing squad with almost no warning. When questioned, the girl denied committing the crime but was sent to prison without having faced a trial.
Yemeni judges and prosecutors frequently disregard the ban on executing juveniles. Political and tribal pressure to execute offenders is high, and Yemeni society is skeptical that children should have special protection in murder cases. Yemeni society believes murder is murder and punishment should be equal for all offenders with no regard to his or her age. Complicating the situation is the fact that Yemen has one of the lowest birth registration rates in the world, so many offenders on death row do not have birth certificates. Many only know the year of their birth. In addition, some prisoners are persuaded to confess under duress and torture and are jailed under forced, not viable, confessions.
The juvenile offenders jailed in Yemen are forgotten voices, stifled by a system that does not support them. The world needs to know the plight of the forgotten children in Yemen and demand the government of Yemen to abide by Yemeni law designed to protect its citizens not violating their rights. Sign the petition below to urge the government of Yemen to address the injustice of executing minors without trial or birth certificate.
Dear Government of Yemen,
After the Yemeni uprising in 2011, many changes occurred within government. With promises to bring Yemen toward democracy and rule of law, there has been a new sense of purpose for Yemen’s future. But all of these promises have meant little to Yemen’s child offenders sitting on death row. Despite Yemen’s 1994 penal code, which aligns with international law, banning execution of child offenders, 15 juvenile offenders have been executed within the past five years. Many of the alleged criminals have no birth certificate and do not know their own exact age. Some have confessed only under extreme duress and torture and, once a confession is given, have been thrown in prison without trial. Of those who have received the death penalty, many were abruptly executed without warning.
These children are the forgotten voices of your nation but the world is now listening. I urge you to address these issues. Yemeni officials and authorities need to abide by Yemen and international law and stop unjust executions of Yemeni children by the hands of the government.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Martin Sojka on Flickr via Fotopedia