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UN to hold panel on children of parents sentenced to death

The United Nations will for the first time discuss the issue of children with a parent on death row in September.

The Human Rights Council, where the world’s governments meet to discuss human rights, decided without a vote to consider the effect on children of having a parent sentenced to death or executed. The initiative was led by the Belgian government, with strong support from Norway, Montenegro, and many other governments from all around the world, but particularly Europe and Latin America.

‘This is a major step forward in considering the wider impacts of the death penalty’, said Rachel Brett of the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) in Geneva, which has worked on this issue since 2011. ‘Having a parent on death row or executed can affect children for the rest of their lives, but is rarely if ever considered by officials.’

The UN decision will enable a panel discussion, with expert speakers addressing the assembled diplomats. The resolution that mandated the discussion also acknowledged the negative impact of a parental death sentence on children and urged countries ‘to provide those children with the protection and assistance they may require’.

‘We probably won’t be able to go into real depth about all the issues, given the time and format’, explained Rachel Brett, ‘but it will mean that international awareness will increase dramatically’.

Further information will be available from QUNO publications on the issue, which draw on published research, questionnaires to governments and the results of an expert workshop with practitioners from around the world. Children of Parents Sentenced to Death, the seminal paper, was published last year, while a new paper is planned in time for the World Congress Against the Death Penalty in June, where QUNO also intends to raise the issue.

Would you like to work for the team doing such important Quaker witness in the world? There are two vacancies at present:
QUNO Vacancy Programme Assistant Food & Sustainability and
QUNO Vacancy Programme Assistant Human Rights and Refugees

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