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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 January, 2004, 18:18 GMT
Ban urged for child executions
A Philippine jail
The Philippines is one country where child offenders face execution

Amnesty International has launched a two-year campaign to ban the execution of child offenders worldwide.

In a report entitled "Time to end a shameful practice", it says that those who commit crimes below the age of 18 have the capacity for rehabilitation.

"International developments... make us believe that our aim is within reach," the organisation said.

The US is one of eight countries Amnesty says has executed child criminals since 1990.

According to Amnesty's report, the US is the only country in the world which openly acknowledges executing child offenders.

"The USA promotes itself as a global human rights champion yet it accounts for 13 of the 19 known executions of child offenders reported since 1998," it said.

'Killing hope'

Other countries which have executed child offenders since 1990 include China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, the organisation says.

Amnesty argues it is wrong to execute child offenders because they can be immature, impulsive, show poor judgement and are susceptible to peer pressure.

It adds that scientific evidence indicates that people develop into their 20s and so are capable of reforming.

"Killing child offenders is to kill hope for the future," Amnesty said.

The organisation says a long-standing principle of international law prohibits the use of the death penalty against child offenders.

Some 192 countries have ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, one of whose treaties bans such executions.

But despite that, Amnesty says child offenders remain under threat of execution in the Philippines and Sudan, as well as in the US.

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