Freedom to grow old

Ever had that moment when you suddenly realise you’re getting old?

  Alexander Chancellor writes in the Guardian of how he refuses offers of a seat on the tube because he doesn’t want to be thought of as old. The people offering their seats are, he says, almost as old as he is but may be trying to convince themselves of their own youthfulness.  

Mr Chancellor is 69. I am 43 but felt a lot older the other day when an assistant in Boots offered me a flu jab. Perhaps I was merely looking a little peaky but I politely declined nevertheless as I associate flu jabs with people in their 60s or 70s. Actually, I was glad that I did say no because one of my brothers, about five years older than me, had a flu jab the other day and promptly got flu.  

Where’s the sense in that?  And where’s the human rights issue in any of this, you ask? There isn’t one but Alexander Chancellor goes on to write about the use of the death penalty and the fact that the US Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to hear an appeal on behalf of Troy Davis, for whom Amnesty has campaigned.  

Troy Davis is 40 and may never reach 43 or even 41, let alone 69. Take action here to try and change that.  

In Iran, some of those facing capital punishment haven’t even got to live out their teens. The country has carried out the death penalty on juveniles once they reached 18 and, according to information available to Amnesty International, six juvenile offenders have already been hanged this year.  

But not any more, we hope. Today we’re welcoming a statement from Hossein Zabhi, Iran’s Assistant Attorney General for Judicial Affairs, that Iran has instructed all courts to cease the execution of juvenile offenders who have committed crimes punishable by death. 

As well as hoping that this announcement will pave the way to a complete abolition of the death penalty in Iran, we want Iran to adhere to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits life imprisonment without the possibility of release for offences committed by persons below 18 years of age.

  Incidentally, in the United States, which unlike Iran is not a signatory to this Convention, many child offenders have been sentenced to life without parole – according to this startling feature in the Guardian last year, more than 2,000!  

That’s a lot of people who will be behind bars when they realise they are growing old.

About Amnesty UK Blogs
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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