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Scope of Article 37(a)

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Chapter Summary

The Canadian proposal included a statement that no child could be sentenced to death. It also added a new sentence: 'No child shall be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment'. The prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is at the core of modern human rights law. Human rights organisations argue that hollow and unsatisfactory 'diplomatic assurances' are being proffered to hide the likelihood of ill-treatment. The prohibition on execution for crimes committed by persons under the age of eighteen is extremely straightforward and leaves essentially no interpretative ambiguities. An unfortunate compromise that was made in the final moments of the drafting of Article 37(a) allows for the possibility that children will be sentenced to life imprisonment and never released.

Keywords: child; crimes; cruel, degrading punishment; cruel, inhuman treatment; human rights law; life imprisonment



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