USA: US Supreme Court bans child executions - ruling welcomed by Amnesty International

Kate Allen continued:

"The death penalty does nothing to deter crime and is a human rights violation that brings shame on those countries that use it. In addition, innocent people are always at risk of execution.

"Only last year I met Ryan Matthews, a man who spent five years on death row after being sentenced to death in Louisiana for a crime allegedly committed by him when he was aged 17. Happily Ryan was fully exonerated and released an innocent man. At long last, people like him will no longer face execution in the USA."

In Roper v. Simmons, the Supreme Court found that executing child offenders violates the US Constitution, concluding that a national consensus against such executions had evolved since 1989 when it ruled that the execution of 16- and 17-year-old offenders was constitutional. The Court had considered national and international trends, scientific evidence, and appeals from religious, human rights, legal and child advocacy organisations.

In recent years, the USA had become the only country in the world to openly acknowledge executing child offenders and to claim for itself the right to do so. It accounts for almost half of the world’s known executions of child offenders carried out since 1990 - 19 out of 39.

Kate Allen added:

"Until today the US was the only country that officially executed child offenders: today’s ruling finally brings the US out from the cold on this issue."

Amnesty International has long campaigned for the complete abolition of the death penalty regardless of the age of offenders. The organisation has also been running a specific Stop Child Executions campaign for over a year.

Amnesty International on the death penalty

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