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Plenary speech on Yemen: death penalty against juvenile offenders, notably the case of Muhammed Taher Thabet Samoum

Mr President, I look with great admiration at the courage of citizens who defy the repression and violence of their governments. We have seen this happening in popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Iran, Algeria, Bahrain and also in Yemen. The young generation wants hope to replace cynicism, opportunities to replace poverty, justice to replace impunity and internet freedom to replace repression and censorship. We have a long list of serious concerns about developments in Yemen in relation to democracy, human rights and the independence of the judiciary, as well as to the persecution of journalists, bloggers and human rights defenders. In particular, we are concerned about the climate of fear that is created by the execution of juveniles, despite Yemen’s commitment to the international community not to execute juvenile offenders and the reflection of that commitment in its own penal code. There is a lack of adequate means to determine the age of defendants, so it is difficult for people to defend themselves. We call on the President of Yemen and the authorities to at least respect Yemen’s own laws and commitments to the international community and halt the execution of juveniles. We also stress the need for reforms in Yemen, as called for by so many demonstrators in the streets, and we want their living conditions and their rights to be improved.