Executing Teens

Along with Iran, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, Yemen is one of the only nations that puts minors to death. Tik Root explains the story of Mohammed Haza, who last weekend was executed by firing squad:

In 1999, Mohammed shot an intruder at his home in the central Yemeni city of Tiaz. The man later died of his wounds. Various judges, including the one who made the initial ruling, determined that the killing was self-defense and that Mohammed was underage at the time of the crime. Ignoring these concerns, an appeals court eventually sentenced him to death.

Root notes that “since 1994, Yemen’s penal code has prohibited executing anyone under 18, while at the same time referring those over the age of 15 to adult courts.” However, the country’s 22% birth registration rate means many fall through the cracks to death row:

Experts say that both the age verification process and Yemeni courts are plagued by unprofessionalism, bias, and corruption. According to [a] HRW report, age certification is conducted using questionable methods and inadequately trained staff. “Forensic doctors” rely on wrist or arm x-rays to make their determinations, a technique that has a margin of error of up to two years in either direction. In poverty stricken Yemen, the fact that “bone-age assessments may be influenced by factors including socio-economic background and nutrition,” further compounds concerns over the accuracy of the tests.