This production was made at the Workshops on Human Rights of the Free Cathedra of Human Rights of the Faculty of Philosophy and Literature of the University of Buenos Aires, with young people from 18 to 20 years old in conflict with penal law and deprived of their liberty.
We would like to tell you that we do not agree with life imprisonment punishment sentenced to minors, because we are minors and we have more possibilities of changing for various reasons, for example, more capacity to learn to walk in other ways, to study, more possibilities to work. And please do not think that we want to tell you what to do, but we would like you to have into consideration the National Constitution and the Convention because there what we want you to understand (section 37, a, b, c, d1) is clearly specified.
We would also like to tell you that it is more than a punishment to a minor to be sentenced with (that) penalty. For example, not being able to face the reality of our future outside and not being able to actually know how would be to form a family and a home, or many other things in particular.
Damián y José Luis
“If children are sentenced to life imprisonment, they lose their lives, they will no longer want to live. That makes them lose their families, everything they had outside.
Those children lose their rights to everything.
When they committed the offence they where children, they did not know what they were doing, maybe they were stoned. A child does not have the same mentality as a grownup”.
“ That prisoner who is sentenced to life imprisonment, has his life ruined in every aspect”
I believe that “life imprisonment” is really wrong. Because we are human beings who can work in many places and you deprive us of everything “Not only of freedom!”
We can: work, study, attend to many workshops, etc.
We cannot serve a life imprisonment punishment:
- The Convention [on the Rights of the Child] says that a minor cannot and must not serve such a punishment.
- We should not serve punishments of deprivation of liberty, instead you should see if the minor can go to a rehab centre.
Beyond the mistakes we committed, we are still human beings”
“A young person cannot be sentenced to life imprisonment because the minor has different benefits than the grownup, that is to say that judges, prosecutors, representatives are violating a right of the minor.
They must respect the human beings benefits.
If they impose life imprisonment to such a young person, they ruin him/her, they eliminate the right to make a family…”
“ I would like that in the places where we are, there were projects of different workshops. Ex: carpentry, electricity, bakery, cultivation, etc. for us to learn at least one benefit to be able to recapitulate and never again be in a place like this.”
“If I weren't at the institute, I would be with my family, I would go to work, take a walk with my son to every place, and enjoy freedom that is the best thing a human being can have
(Proposals of alternative measures to life imprisonment:)
- Be in one's home. Domiciliary imprisonment.
- Work for the State
- Therapeutic community”
Convention on the Rights of the Child, incorporated to our National Constitution through section 75.
Article 37: States Parties shall ensure that:
- No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age;
No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time;
- Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age. In particular, every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults unless it is considered in the child's best interest not to do so and shall have the right to maintain contact with his or her family through correspondence and visits, save in exceptional circumstances;
- Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action.