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Human rights of children of parents sentenced to the death penalty or executed

Last updated: 24.09.2013 // The 24th Session of the Human Rights Council Panel Discussion on Human rights of children of parents sentenced to the death penalty or executed Geneva, 11 September 2013

Norway opposes capital punishment in all circumstances and as a matter of principle.

There is an urgent need to examine the effects of the capital punishment system in its entirety. This includes the social, economic and psychological impacts that shape the lives of the children of those executed or under sentence of death.

These children have committed no crime. Yet they are directly and powerfully impacted by their parent’s involvement with the criminal justice system.

We need to devote more attention to the impacts and consequences that a parent’s death sentence has for a child, both in order to provide the special care and protection that he or she may need, and to understand how far the repercussions may extend beyond the immediate family. We therefore warmly welcome this panel discussion.

Families of the accused are in many ways the “hidden victims”.  Since they are not legally considered to be victims in the countries that use the death penalty, any support that might be available for medical expenses, counseling or funeral expenses is not available to the children and family of the person who receives the death penalty.

Which steps can be taken to achieve that the families of the executed are recognized as victims under the UN Declaration of Universal Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of State Power?

Beyond the children immediately impacted by the loss of a parent, studies have shown that children’s exposure to violence can predict attitudes justifying their own use of violence. What attitudes do children living in societies using the death penalty develop regarding conflict and the use of violence?

Lastly, we’d like to recommend that an expert seminar, with relevant UN experts and practitioners, should be convened to explore further the consequences of a parental death sentence on the children, and identify measures to mitigate them, and the rights of the child in this context.

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