Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Life Without Parole for Juveniles Contrary to 'Evolving Standards of Decency' Says US Supreme Court

In Graham v. Florida, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that sentencing juvenile offenders to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is a violation of the constitution. Students of international human rights law will know that this is prohibited by article 37(a) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. A five-judge majority (you don’t really need me to tell you who I’m talking about) supported the opinion of Justice Kennedy, which referred to the international law source as follows:

Thus, as petitioner contends and respondent does not contest, the United States is the only Nation that imposes life without parole sentences on juvenile non-homicide offenders. We also note, as petitioner and his amici emphasize, that Article 37(a) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Nov. 20, 1989, 1577 U. N. T. S. 3 (entered into force Sept. 2, 1990), ratified by every nation except the United States and Somalia, prohibits the imposition of “life imprisonment without possibility of release . . . for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age.”
Thanks to Megan Fairlie.

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