Amnesty tells US to stop executing child offenders

LONDON, July 18 (Reuters) - Human rights watchdog Amnesty International called on the United States on Friday to stop executing people for crimes they committed as children.

"The execution of child offenders has rightly become abhorrent in virtually every corner of the world, yet the USA is shamefully ignoring the effective ban on executing child offenders," Amnesty UK Director Kate Allen said in a statement.

In the United States, the death penalty is a matter for individual states, some of which permit the execution of people for crimes committed when they were teenagers.

According to a new Amnesty report, the United States "is the only country in the world to openly carry out child offender executions within the framework of its ordinary criminal justice system."

The report said the United States was responsible for 13 of the 20 known executions worldwide in the last decade for crimes committed before the offender's 18th birthday. Five of the U.S. executions took place in the last 18 months.

Amnesty called for a ban on such executions to be recognised as a "peremptory norm" of international law, which would make them illegal everywhere, regardless of whether a country had signed up to treaties banning the practice.

The other countries known to have executed child offenders in the past 20 years are Barbados, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan and Yemen, Amnesty said.