Home » Reports » Saudi Arabia: A Poor record in dealing with United Nations communications requesting it to respect the right to life and to halt the execution of children and peaceful dissents.

Saudi Arabia: A Poor record in dealing with United Nations communications requesting it to respect the right to life and to halt the execution of children and peaceful dissents.

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Monitoring by the European Organization for Human Rights on Saudi Arabia confirmed in statistics that has been vetted on 25 July, 2017 that 47 detainees are currently facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, in various stages of litigation. Eighteen of them may be executed at any moment after the approval of the final sentences by the Supreme Court.

The organization stracking of these cases indicates that eight prisoners were minors at the time of arrest or according to the date of the charges against them. Similarly, the organization has documented that many of them were tortured to extract confessions.

Saudi Arabia insists on issuing death sentences and goes ahead in its implementation including the executions of political prisoners. The most recent executions of four prisoners was in July 2017. This occurs despite it constituting a violation of the commitments that it made internationally, despite the criticisms which demand Saudi to stop such sentences, and repeat some of the trials. In this context, several international interlocutors provided Saudi Arabia with communications in which they raised some issues and cases related to those facing the risk of the death penalty:

The special reporters of the United Nations

Mujtaba Al-Suweyket:

The Special Reporter on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and the Special Reporter on torture and other cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, presented a letter on 21 November 2016 to Saudi Arabia on the issue of youth Mujtaba Al-Suweyket, which raised a number of questions about the information obtained on the issue of torture and the fairness of the trial. Both Reporters requested from Saudi Arabia to “prevent the implementation of the death sentence issued against Mujtaba and confirmed that the implementation would not be consistent with international law”. During the writing of this report, the life of Mujtaba is still in danger and he may be killed at any moment.

The Saudi government replied to the communication on 17 January 2017 about the issue of Al-Suweyket within its response to another communication regarding Ali Al-Nimr, Munir Adam alongside the issue of Al-Suweyket.

Ali Al-Nimr–Mujtaba Al-Suweyket:

On 1 September 2016, a communication (letter) sent by four United Nations rapporteurs, including: The Special Reporter on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions,  Special Reporter on human rights in the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, Special Reporter on the independence of judges and Lawyers and the Special Reporter on torture and other cruel inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in which they addressed Saudi Arabia and raised an issue of the six detainees including three who were sentenced to death: Ali Al-Nimr, Mujtaba Al-Suweyket and Munir Adam. The letter expressed concernof “torture and ill-treatment, including the extraction of confessions by force, the lack of investigation in what they went through the torture of the opening of the trials to prosecute the torturers, the use of corporal punishment and the imposition of the death penalty after unfair trials, the inhuman conditions of detention, and the use of solitary confinement for long periods of time.” The Special Reporters also expressed concern about the physical and mental integrity of detainees who were mentioned in the letter, as well as the lack of medical care.

Saudi Arabia responded to the communication on 17 Jan 2017 as well as to the previous one in the case of Mujtaba Al-Suweyket, where it denied that Al-Suweyket was subjected to torture to elicit confessions from him by force, referring to the charges faced by Mujtaba, indicating that the sentence is still under judicial review. With regard to Munir Adam, the governments response denied that was tortured, and said that he had lost hearing in one ear before the arrest, while his family confirmed, on more than one occasion, the opposite of what the government was claiming. Saudi Arabia also responded to a number of queries made by the rapporteurs, including ensuring adherence to international standards in the application of the death penalty. It also said the death penalty was not carried out, except for the most serious crimes in the narrowest limits, despite this running counter to its actual practice.

Ali Al-Nimr , Dawood Al-Marhoon, and Abdullah Al-Zaher:

On 22 March 2016, The Special Reporter on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary and the Special Reporter on torture on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, sent a letter to Saudi Arabia which contained details on each of the issues of the Al-Nimr , Dawood Almarhoon, and Abdullah Al-Zaher, in which they called upon the Saudi government “to take all necessary steps to stop the implementation of the judgment issued against them,”. The reporters emphasized the lack of conformity of the sentence with international human rights standards and laws, particularly with regard to the fact they were all juveniles.

Saudi Arabia has not responded to the letter, although it said it would respond within 30 days, in the meanwhile, these individuals may be executed at any moment.

Dawood Al-Marhoon:

The Special rapporteurs sent a letter to Saudi Arabia on 19 October 2015 about the issue of Dawood Al-Marhoon, in which they showed concern over the possibility of his execution, despite him being a minor at the time of arrest. The communication called upon the Saudi government “to take all necessary steps to bring the death penalty.” Saudi Arabia has not responded to the letter.

Ashraf Fayadh:

On 30 November 2015, seven of the special United Nations rapporteurs (Special Reporter in the field of cultural rights, the Special Reporter on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Reporter on freedom of religion or belief, the Special Reporter on the independence of judges and lawyers, the United Nations special reporter on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the Special Reporter on the situation of human rights defenders, the Special Reporter on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions), sent a letter to Saudi Arabia on the issue of the Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh. It called up on Saudi Arabia for an immediate end to the death penalty.

The rapporteurs said that the information they received confirms that Fayadh’ ssentence is “inconsistent with the rights of each individual to life, liberty and security; freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention, fair trial, freedom of thought, conscience and religion; and freedom of opinion and expression”.

On March 4, 2016, Saudi Arabia responded to the letter, and confirmed its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and rejected all the information received by the Special rapporteurs on the issue of Ashraf Fayadh in which it detailed the legal material that the sentence was based on, and said “It does not accept the questioning of the fairness, justice and the independence of the judiciary”, and demanded the closure of the file. With regard to the latest developments in the case of Fayadh, the death penalty has been dropped and he was instead sentenced to eight years and 800 lashes.

On September 30, 2015 the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Reporter on the independence of judges and lawyers, the Special Reporter on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the Special Reporter on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, sent a letter to Saudi Arabia on the issue of the Jordanian sentenced to death for drug-related case, Hussein Abu Al-Khair.

The communication explained that the reasons for the issue of Abu Al-Khair, in addition to that he faces charges do not constitute‘ most dangerous crimes‘, which makes the decision of the death penalty in his case extrajudicial.

On 4 May 2016, Saudi Arabia responded to the letter, and enumerated the laws said they ensure that all detainees are given their rights. Also, it considered the response to the concerns of the special rapporteurs are unjustified because Abu Al-Khair won the right to a fair trial, and noted that the death penalty is not applied in Saudi Arabia, except for the most serious crimes.

 

Committee Against torture

On 7 June 2016, the Committee against Torture in the United Nations made a concluding observation on the question of torture in Saudi Arabia.

The report expressed concerns about the violation of Saudi Arabia to the Convention against Torture which was signed in 1997. Among the issues raised by the report, the issue of death penalty, where Saudi Arabia was called on to provide detailed data on the implementation of the provisions of the death penalty and conditions anticipated. The report also said that “judges in court repeatedly refused to consider the allegations by terror suspects, in which they said they had been subjected to torture or ill-treatment during interrogation in order to extract confessions, the report cited the cases of Ali Al-Nimr, Dawood Almarhoon , Abdullah Zaher .

The Committee on the Rights of the Child

On 25 October 2016, the Committee on the Rights of the child in the United Nations report on the implementation of Saudi Arabia to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The report pointed to a number of concerns surrounding the laws and legislation on the issue of the death penalty, where Saudi Arabia still equates children with adults in trials and sentences them to death. The Committee urged the Saudi government to “immediately stop the executions of persons who were under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged crime, including: Ali Al-Nimr, Abdullah Al-Zaher, Salman Al-Quraish ,Mujtaba Al-Suweyket, Abdul Karim Al-Hawaj , and Dawood Almarhoon .

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention

on 6 February 2017, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, sent a letter to Saudi Arabia regarding three minors (Ali Al-Nimr, Dawood Almarhoon, and Abdullah Al-Zaher) facing a death sentence, in which they called upon them to take the necessary measures to protect them from the death penalty and release them immediately. The group expressed in the letter their deep alarmed by the fact that the three minors were prosecuted and sentenced to death based on terrorism legislation. The Panel issued an opinion, which considered that the three individuals had been deprived of their liberty for four years and that there was no legal basis for arbitrary detention. The Panel also acknowledged that the arrest of the three minors happened as a result of their participation in peaceful demonstrations. As the Panel pointed out, Saudi Arabia’s response to the complaint did not contain any information proves that the detainees were not subjected to torture.

The High Commissioner

in addition to the reports and requests brought by a number of mechanisms of the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zaid Bin Raad Al-Hussein, criticized the Saudi government in annual report on March 2017; The Executions in Saudi Arabia; pointing out that it is one of the four countries in the world that is responsible for 90 percent of all executions. The European Organization for Saudi Arabia for Human Rights stresses that corroborates the view of the bodies and mechanisms of the United Nations, that issues of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, shows a lack of respect for international commitments. Especially when one considers that it is a member of the Human Rights Council for the fourth time, where it continues to ignore requests brought forward by the experts of special procedures, or provides answers are incorrect or misleading, and deliberately to the ratification and implementation sentences, despite UN experts expressing concern about its procedural fairness.

Since the year 2014, the UN experts, addressed four commuincations to Saudi Arabia on the issue of Sheikh Al-Nimr, in which they expressed concern over the conduct of the trial and the fears of the death penalty. On 28 August 2014, the experts asked the government of Saudi Arabia in the letter, about the details of the case of the detention and trial of Sheikh Al-Nimr. On 17 November of the same year, experts addressed a communication on the issue of Sheikh Al-Nimr in which they pointed out that he was not afforded fair trial conditions. On13 May 2015 in a letter to the Government, they called upon them to take all feasible safeguards to protect Sheikh Al-Nimr from the death penalty, but Saudi Arabia ratified the sentence ND implemented the execution on 2 January 2016. In the mass execution of forty seven detainees, some children also were also executed alongside Sheikh Al-Nimr. On August 31, 2016 Saudi Government received a communication that contained a reference to the case of Sheikh Nimr Baqir Al-Nimr, as one of the examples of the trials that failed to meet the legal standards and the requirements of a fair trial. The communication acknowledged that the death sentence carried out against Al-Nimr on 2 January 2016 happened after he faced political charges. ESOHR believes that Saudi Arabia’s insistence to proceed with the implementation of the death penalty cases received in the reports and communications of the special reporters of the UN commissions, whilst ignoring criticisms directed its judicial fairness, is a clear and flagrant violation of the commitments that Saudi Arabia had agreed.

ESHOR calls upon civil society in Saudi Arabia to monitor all the communications between the United Nations mechanisms and Saudi Arabia, and circulate them in public in various forms. The organization calls on the human rights council to act, as Saudi persistence in ignoring their obligations, means that the Council and its related mechanisms should take serious steps as a matter of urgency, for the protection of the right to life of children and adults who are at risk of imminent execution at any moment.

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