Afghanistan—Rights of Children of Parents Sentenced to Death—Committee for the Rights of the Child—July 2019

The Advocates for Human Rights together with the Word Coalition Against the Death Penalty, submitted a List of Issues Report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child concerning Afghanistan’s compliance with its obligations to children of death-sentenced and executed individuals under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Following the period of Taliban control of Afghanistan from 1992 to 2001, the Afghan Government dramatically scaled back its use of the death penalty. However, the government still fails to fulfill its obligations to protect the rights of children of death-sentenced and executed individuals. Specifically, the Afghan government provides little evidence of supporting a child of a death sentenced individuals’ right to information of their parents sentencing or trial status, direct and regular contact with their parents, health services, and protection from political and or social discrimination.

The Afghan Government drafted the Child Act in 2016, protecting children from torture, cruel, inhumain, and/or degrading treatment. However, neither the Child Act nor the most recent State Party Report to the Convention on the Rights of the Child acknowledge that the trauma endured by children of death-sentenced or executed parents can rise to the level of torture. The government also does not demonstrate providing adequate health services for the children of death-sentenced or executed individuals, or careful consideration of the best interests of the child at the time of sentencing. Moreover, considerable lack of transparency and independence within the judiciary inhibits a child’s right to be kept informed of their parent’s sentence or pending execution, and compromises the child’s ability to retain direct contact with their parent. Lastly, many death-sentenced or executed individuals have alleged affiliations with terrorist organizations, rendering their children particularly vulnerable to discrimination on the basis of their parent’s political orientation. The Afghan government does not provide evidence of measures to protect children from this discrimination.

This List of Issues submission suggests several questions to pose to the Afghan Government, including:

  • At the time of sentencing, what measures are in place to ensure that the sentencing authority considers the best interests of the child the person being sentenced?
  • When a person is imprisoned under sentence of death, do their children have the right to visit? Under what conditions? In what other ways are children allowed to communicate with a parent sentenced to death? What measured are in place to promote a Childs right to visit and contact an incarcerated parent? Is a child ever compelled to pay a fee in order to visit a parent in prison?
  • Do government agencies provide training to individuals in the judiciary and the prison system regarding how to engage with and support children of death sentenced or executed parents?
  • To what extend does the Afghan Government offer financial support programs, including income support, travel costs, funeral costs, and medical/health care costs, for children of patents who have been executed or who are under sentence of death?