10 October marks the World Day Against the Death Penalty which this year focuses children of parents sentenced to death or executed with the title Children: The Unseen Victims of the Death Penalty. The World Day will draw attention to the impact on children of parental death sentences and executions.
Since 2011 QUNO has worked to better understand these impacts, how these harms can be mitigated and how the rights of this group of children can be upheld. Our 2013 report Lightening the Load explores the harms for children and what steps can be taken to ameliorate them. This year we published an expert legal analysis to examine how the existing international legal framework provides protection for the rights of children who face the loss of their parent in this way.
The Human Rights Council has:
Acknowledge[d] the negative impact of a parent’s death sentence and his or her execution on his or her children, and urge[d] States to provide those children with the protection and assistance they may require; (read full document here)
The Committee on the Rights of the child recommended to States:
Take into consideration the existence of children and their best interests when considering the death penalty and provide psychological and other support necessary to children whose parents have been sentenced to death; (read full document here)
The Human Rights Committee is clear:
States … should … refrain from executing … parents to very young or dependent children. (read full document here)
To help translate these and other standards into change for children we have produced a set of Briefing Tools for different professions which have duties towards children of parents sentenced to death or executed.
Across the world on World Day Against the Death Penalty people are joining together to say that we see these children, we see the damage the death penalty can do in their lives and we call for an end to the harms they suffer.