DRC. MINORS SIT ON DEATH ROW
April 26, 2006: among the inmates languishing in prisons throughout the DRC are at least ten children, some as young as 15 years old, condemned to death and waiting to be executed, according to a September 2005 letter from the United Nations to the Congolese government. Minors sit on death row in DRC often because they cannot prove their age. More often, UN workers say, these children lack the funds to pay for adequate legal counsel.Â
"The trials are usually expeditious without respect for fair trial guarantees for the rights of the accused or victims. Some children condemned did not even have lawyers," Daniela Baro, a UN lawyer investigating juvenile criminals on death row said.
"Last year, someone was condemned to death in just one day."
While Congo's penal code allows for it under certain circumstances, it is illegal to condemn a person to death for crimes committed when they were younger than 18 years old. "Some lawyers are not able to prove the child's age by lack of resources to obtain alternative proofs of age and the judge then considers them as adults. This means they can impose the death penalty legally," Baro said. (Sources: All Africa, 26/04/2006)