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Prominent Human Rights Lawyer Finds Loopholes in Saudi Abolition of Child Executions

London, UK – A prominent UK-based human rights attorney has published an analysis on the recent human rights reforms on child executions passed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The analysis shows that the reforms, while representing a positive first step, do not go far enough to honor Saudi Arabia’s international human rights commitments and completely eliminate the death penalty for minors.

Find the analysis here.

Oliver Windridge is a British lawyer specializing in international criminal law and international human rights. He has previously written on other human rights issues in Saudi Arabia, including an analysis of a youth protester’s arrest and indictment, and a second analysis on the indictment of Israa al-Ghomgam.

His analysis concludes that the Juvenile Law of 2018 and the accompanying Royal Decree of April 2020, both purported to completely eliminate child executions in Saudi Arabia, contains “major exceptions” that allow prosecutors to continue to demand the death penalty against minors at trial. According to Windridge, the laws in question only apply to minors who have committed certain types of offenses called ta’azir crimes, which are regulated by the government and are not mentioned in the Saudi Sharia. Windridge goes on to stay that, “[a] ccordingly, minors aged 15 to 18 who are convicted of hudud or qisas crimes may still be subject to the death penalty.” He further states that the laws appear to carve out exceptions for anti-terrorism cases, which further obfuscate the impact of the reform. He finally provides analysis on Saudi Arabia’s very definition of childhood, which he states itself would allow persons considered children by the rest of the world to be executed in the Kingdom.

Windridge closes by recommending that the Saudi government close these loopholes, supplementing the Juvenile Law and Royal Decree with provisions that abolish executions for all crimes, including those related to hudud and qisas. He also states that Saudi Arabia must amend its definition of a juvenile in line with international human rights law.

 

ESOHR has obtained permission from Windridge to publish his analysis, which may be found here.

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