The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, today expressed her deep concern at the scheduled executions of two inmates in the United States for crimes they committed before they were legally adults.
While acknowledging the seriousness of the crimes for which the defendants, T.J. Jones and Toronto Patterson, were convicted, and voicing deep sympathy for the victims and their families, Mrs. Robinson reiterated her opposition to the use of the death penalty against juvenile offenders.
“The Convention on the Rights of the Child clearly stipulates that capital punishment shall not be imposed for offences committed by persons below 18 years of age,” the High Commissioner said, noting that all States except the United States and Somalia have ratified the treaty.
Mr. Jones and Mr. Patterson are scheduled to be executed in the state of Texas on 8 and 28 August, respectively, for crimes they committed when they were 17 years old.
“The overwhelming international consensus that the death penalty should not apply to juvenile offenders stems from the recognition that young persons, because of their immaturity, may not fully comprehend the consequences of their actions and should therefore benefit from less severe sanctions than adults,” said Mrs. Robinson. “More importantly, it reflects the firm belief that young persons are more susceptible to change, and thus have a greater potential for rehabilitation than adults.”
“I hope the Texas Governor and Board of Pardons and Paroles will take these factors into account and grant T.J. Jones and Toronto Patterson relief from the death penalty,” she said.