Wednesday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

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Juveniles Executed in Yemen Though Law Forbids It, Digital Journal

Yemen is accused of jailing and executing people who were still children when they committed their crimes. Some of the executions are due to lack of birth certificates but others are due to failures in the justice system.

A sample case is described in an Al Jazeera report. Mariam al-Batah is one of 22 known death row juveniles in Yemen. She was sentenced to death for murder at 15. She comes from a rural illiterate background and her parents failed to register her birth. She is now 19 and has spent the years since her sentence in squalid conditions at Hodeida Central Prison.

Al-Batah’s father married her off as a second wife to an older man when she was only 12 years old. Al-Batah claims that her husband beat her, starved her, and locked her in a room for weeks at a time. One day when the child of her husband’s first wife unlocked the door where she was locked in, she recalls rushing out in a disoriented state and she violently hurled the child to the ground, killing it on the spot.

Israel Accused of Abusing Detained Children, Al Jazeera

Palestinian children detained by Israeli authorities face systematic abuse that violates international law, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has said in a report. UNICEF estimated that 700 Palestinian children aged between 12 and 17 were arrested by Israeli security forces every year in the occupied West Bank.

The world organisation said it had identified some examples of practices that “amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Torture” . . .

“The pattern of ill-treatment includes … the practice of blindfolding children and tying their hands with plastic ties, physical and verbal abuse during transfer to an interrogation site, including the use of painful restraints,” the report said.  It said minors suffered physical violence and threats during their interrogation, were coerced into confession and not given immediate access to a lawyer or family during questioning.

Number of detained teens at 35-year low, study finds, Philadelphia Inquirer

The number of teenagers being held in detention centers and other facilities across the country is at its lowest level in 35 years, a finding that suggests a national shift on how to treat young offenders, juvenile justice advocates say . . .

James Anderson, executive director of the state Juvenile Court Judges’ Commission . . . said that from 2008 through 2011, Pennsylvania’s court-ordered placements of juveniles into detention centers and other delinquency programs has decreased by more than 25 percent.

Surrogate Crystal Kelley offered $10k to abort, fled across US to give birth to ‘Baby S’, CNN

[Crystal] Kelley had agreed to be a surrogate and was being paid $2,222 a month by the parents for her trouble. But an ultrasound scan of the fetus showed serious abnormalities. Fearing that the child would never lead a normal life — whatever that may be — the parents asked Kelley to abort.

Although the surrogacy agreement contained a clause to this effect, Kelley refused . . . The parents offered Kelly an extra $10,000 to terminate the pregnancy. Although she said she was against abortion for religious and moral reasons, Kelley eventually thought she might be able to quash those ethical qualms if the parents paid her $15,000 — $5,000 apparently being the difference between “against” and “fine with it.” The parents refused, and Kelley says she regretted the offer . . . Kelley decided to have the child, who was born severely disabled and lives with adoptive parents in the Midwest . . .

A woman’s right to choose is, of course, the founding principle of the pro-choice movement and its valiant campaign to keep abortion safe and legal — no matter, for now, that the legality of abortion mostly rests on physician-patient privacy . . .
Those who seek surrogacy should understand that it is only possible because we believe in a woman’s right to choose . . . it is important for us to recognize that, as an ethical issue, a woman’s right to control her body far outweighs anyone’s rights to have the child they want.

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