Law Students Urge UN to Ask U.S. to Stop Jailing Children for Life
The International Human Rights Law Society (IHRLS) of Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis submitted on April 19, 2010 a universal periodic review (UPR) report to the United Nations Human Rights Council assailing the sentencing to life imprisonment without parole of children in the United States.
The following students authored the report: LL.M. candidates Evelyn Aero and Ntsika W. Fakudze, J.D. candidates Ann Marie Judson-Patrick, Leontiy V. Korolev, Saira N. Latif, Bobby Y. Lydon-Lam, Kalli Dee McBride, Javaneh Nekoomaram, Samantha K. Sledd, James R. Smerbeck, and John L. Tao. Professor George E. Edwards, director of the Program in International Human Rights Law (PIHRL), endorsed it.
The students provided the Council with their chart showing that 27 US states mandated the imposition of life sentences without parole upon persons who were below 18 at the time of their alleged commission of the crime. The students urged the Council to call upon the U.S. to eliminate the practice and to “emphasize rehabilitation and education in judicial treatment of juveniles” instead.
The report was submitted as part of the Council’s mandatory review of the U.S., in a process known as “Universal Periodic Review” (UPR), in which the Council will hold hearings on human rights law compliance in each country of the world. The U.S. is a member of the Council, and thus will have an early hearing on whether the U.S. complies with international human rights law. The U.S. hearings will be held in Geneva in November or December 2010. IU School of Law–Indianapolis students may travel to the Geneva hearings, and may raise the issue orally with member states of the Council and with other states observing the proceeding.
The IHRLS, in cooperation with PIHRL, previously submitted shadow reports to different UN human rights treaty bodies on a wide range of human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by some governments. These reports are called “shadow reports” because they ordinarily “shadow” or follow the government report and expose violations that governments omit from their report. The students have made oral presentations at the UN in New York and Geneva on these violations.
The students’ shadow reports had focused on many issues, including freedom of expression, indigenous people’s rights, women’s and children’s rights, discrimination based on sexual orientation, Roma people’s rights, and racial discrimination against Muslims, Arabs, Middle Easterners, and South Asians. Students had exposed violations in Zambia, Chile, Panama, the United States, Chad, Philippines, Nepal, and Australia.
J.D. and LL.M. students had participated in shadow reporting at the law school.
A list of the law school’s shadow reports can be found at http://indylaw.indiana.edu/humanrights/UNshadow.html.
More information about the Human Rights Council can be found here: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/.
Student and other individuals interested in working on shadow reports may contact Perfecto “Boyet” Caparas (email@example.com).