At least three young men are at risk of imminent execution in Saudi Arabia after an appeals court upheld their sentences between June and October this year, Amnesty International said on Monday.
In the wake of what it described as “grossly unfair trials”, the organization called on the Saudi authorities to commute their sentences, on the International Day Against the Death Penalty.
In February 2022, the Saudi Human Rights Commission told Amnesty International that the country had stopped executing individuals for “crimes committed by minors”, saying it had commuted all outstanding sentences in these cases.
Diana Samaan, acting deputy director of the regional office for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “Sentencing people to death for crimes committed when they were under the age of 18 is a clear violation of international human rights law . The Saudi authorities have promised to end the use of the death penalty in such cases. However, the harsh reality is that these young men face imminent death.”
“The king should not endorse these death sentences, immediately halt all imminent executions and order retrials that must be fully in line with international fair trial standards, with no recourse to the death penalty,” she added.
Between June and October, the Specialized Criminal Court and another criminal court upheld the death sentence of three young men. An appeals court in Saudi Arabia upheld the death sentence against Jalal Labbad, one of three youths facing imminent execution, on 4 October. of two others continue.before the Specialized Criminal Court in which the prosecution seeks the death penalty.All five individuals were juveniles between the ages of 14 and 18 at the time of their alleged crimes.
“Four out of five members of the group are from the minority Shiite community. They have been convicted or charged with terrorism-related charges for participating in anti-government protests or attending funerals for those killed by security forces. The authorities have repeatedly sentenced members of their community dead in pursuit of To quell dissent in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.
Jalal Labbad was originally sentenced to death on August 1, 2022 for alleged crimes that occurred when he was 16 and 17 years old. He was in pretrial detention for nearly two years, during which he was subjected to psychological and physical torture, including sleep deprivation, over a three-week period.
The Specialized Criminal Court found him guilty of a wide range of charges, including chanting slogans insulting government officials while attending funerals for those killed by security forces, “armed break with the regime” and allegedly kidnapping a judge and killed, and shot and threw Molotov. cocktails with security officers. .
In August 2022, the Court of Appeal of the Specialized Criminal Court upheld the death sentence imposed on Abdullah Al-Derazi, who was arrested at the age of 16. During his trial proceedings, he requested an independent medical evaluation of the health setbacks he suffered as a result of torture. The court did not grant his request.
Abdullah Al-Hwaiti, who was arrested in May 2017, when he was 14 years old, for armed robbery and murder of a security officer, is one of those at risk of execution. After his retrial by order of the Supreme Court in 2021, the Criminal Court in Tabuk reaffirmed his death sentence on March 2, 2022. He refused to sign his statement, telling the court: “All the “confessions” are wrong and they were issued by me under the influence of coercion, as I was subjected to beatings and threats… They made me asked to change my statements to match the statements of the rest of the accused.”
On August 22, “The Times” newspaper reported that Saudi Arabia had resumed issuing death sentences to teenagers for protesting against the regime, despite previous promises to end the practice.
Human rights monitors recorded seven cases in which the death penalty was demanded, issued or confirmed on appeal for crimes committed by minors.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who came to power promising to change the country’s image, ordered an end to its use on minors two years ago. The sentences of three young men were, after international appeals, by British politicians among others, reduced to ten years.
On July 31, Labbad was found guilty and sentenced to death on a range of charges, including protest. He was 21 years old when he was arrested in 2017, but he was accused of taking part in protests and demonstrations years before.
On August 8, the Specialized Criminal Court of Appeal upheld a death sentence against Al-Derazi, who was 19 years old when he was arrested in 2014. He was accused of participating in protests, processions and funerals for victims, distributing water during protests, participating in the formation of a terrorist cell and assaulting public property. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for five other juveniles for similar crimes.
A human rights organization announced in August that the number of people executed by Saudi Arabia in the first six months of 2022 was almost double the number of those executed in 2021, despite the Saudi crown prince’s “promises” to reduce the death penalty.
The European-Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) said the kingdom executed 120 people in the first six months of this year.
On March 15, Amnesty International documented the execution of 81 men, including Saudi and non-Saudi nationals. Of those executed, 41 belonged to the Shiite minority. Since then, the authorities have continued to issue death sentences to men belonging to the Shiite minority, including those who were under 18 at the time of the alleged crimes.