Friday, November 14, 2008

Prosecutor Demands Steep Sentences for Child Protestors

From TDZ:
A prosecutor has demanded 23 years in prison for six elementary school students aged between 13 and 14 for participating in illegal demonstrations and throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at the police two weekends ago, during protests of the prime minister’s visit to the predominantly Kurdish Southeast.

The indictment, prepared by the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, claimed that the demonstrations were organized by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) through Web sites and calls broadcast on Roj TV, a PKK-affiliated station.

. . . .

The indictment says suspect Ş.B. chanted illegal slogans and acted with a group that attacked security forces with sticks and stones. Suspect E.B. is being accused of unfurling an illegal poster and of throwing Molotov cocktails at the police, acts the prosecutor says are recorded on security footage.

Suspects V.D. and Ş.A. stand accused of keeping watch for a group that burned car tires in the illegal demonstrations, while Ö.S. and M.A. are accused of joining a group that set up a barricade and threw rocks at the police.

The minors could be sentenced to up to 23 years in prison under various articles of Turkey's Anti-Terrorism Law, including "spreading the cause of a terrorist organization," "committing a crime on behalf of a terrorist organization without holding membership," "resisting police dispersion attempts with weapons or instruments" and "vandalizing public property."

The Higher Criminal Court for Juveniles will hear the trial in the next few days. The minors are under arrest, pending trial.
For an earlier incident of the Diyarbakır Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office seeking steep sentences for minors, see the attempt made this summer to prosecute members of a children's choir for singing allegedly pro-PKK anthems while attending a concert in the United States. Under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which applies to everyone under 18, states should aim to establish laws, procedures, authorities and institutions specifically applicable to children accused of infringing the penal law. The UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice ("The Beijing Rules"), adopted by the UN General Assembly in November 1985, stipulate in particular that proceedings for children should be conducive to the best interests of the child and shall be conducted in an atmosphere of understanding allowing them to participate and to express themselves freely, and that the well-being of the child should be the guiding factor in the consideration of the case.

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