Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Yemen: death penalty against juvenile offenders

Delivered in Plenary - 17th February 2011

Mr President

Yemen is a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which expressly prohibit the execution of juvenile offenders those convicted of crimes committed when the perpetrators were under the age of 18.

The impending execution of Muhammed Samoum, and indeed the detention on death row of several other juvenile offenders, is an affront to international law. By pursuing such policies, on the bizarre excuses of the accused not having proper birth certificates or of uncertainty about their age, Yemen is aligning itself with the brutal theocracy of Iran. However, the difference between the two countries is that Yemen receives massive aid from the West, including the EU, in order to root out al-Qaeda terrorists, whereas Iran is an international pariah.

Therefore, we have considerable leverage here in the EU over President Ali Abdullah Saleh. I urge the High Representative to take all possible steps to persuade him to grant clemency in this case. Having announced that he will shortly relinquish his post, President Saleh has a real chance now to leave a positive and enlightened legacy in his country, which has been brutalised by conflict and terrorism for so long and now dreams of a democratic future.