Children of parents sentenced to death or executed - Developments, Good Practices and Next Steps


On 11 March 2014, during the 25th session of the UN Human Rights Council (Palais des Nations, Geneva), the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) together with Belgium, Mexico,
Montenegro and Norway, organised a side event on ‘Children of Parents Sentenced to the Death Penalty or Executed: Developments, Good Practices and Next Steps’.

This publication compiles the presentations made by the panellists and offers a summary of the discussion that followed the presentations.

The side event was an opportunity to:

  • reflect on the link between violence against children and the sentencing of a parent to death
  • hear how the (specific) application of the death penalty in Japan inflicts additional suffering on the children of death row prisoners
  • learn about the Mexican programme for nationals facing the death penalty in the USA (Mexican Capital Legal Assistance Program - MCLAP) and the assistance provided by Mexico to the children and families of nationals on death row in the USA
  • discuss the OHCHR report summarizing the Human Rights Council Panel on this issue, and have an in-depth discussion about some of the recommendations made during that event, including the convening of a UN expert seminar on the applicable human rights framework
  • get an overview of the developments in the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Universal Periodic Review process and the UN General Assembly

Among the other issues that came up were:

  • the High Commissioner’s recommendation that moratoria include sentencing to death as well as executions
  • the recommendation of the Committee on the Rights of the Child that the best interests of the child be taken into account when sentencing a parent, including a possible death sentence
  • the need for States to give effect to the Human Rights Council’s resolution call that children of parents on death row be given access to their parents and to informtion regarding their parents’ status 
  • the need to immediately end any form of secrecy surrounding the use of the death penalty, and ensure domestic legislation complies with international standards on transparency 
  • the link between the rights of children and families to know about the fate and burial site of executed persons and transitional justice processes
  • the pivotal role that can be played by National Human Rights Institutions.