Two Juvenile Executions Are "Deplorable Additions to Grim Tally" in Saudi Arabia, Says Amnesty International

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Two Juvenile Executions Are "Deplorable Additions to Grim Tally" in Saudi Arabia, Says Amnesty International

Human Rights Organization Derides Grossly Unfair Trials and Executions for Crimes Committed As Minors

WASHINGTON - Two men who were juveniles
at the time of their alleged crimes were beheaded by Saudi Arabian authorities
yesterday (Sunday), Amnesty International revealed today. The death sentences
against Sultan Bin Sulayman Bin Muslim al-Muwallad, a Saudi Arabian, and
‘Issa bin Muhammad ‘Umar Muhammad, a Chadian, were imposed after grossly
unfair trial proceedings.

The two men were beheaded, along with three
other men, after being convicted of a number of offenses committed when
they were 17 years old, including the abduction and rape of children, theft
and consumption of alcohol and drugs. These offenses had, according to
the judgment, amounted to "corruption on earth," a charge that
can carry the death penalty even when the offenses do not result in lethal
consequences.

"Yesterday's beheadings are a deplorable
addition to Saudi Arabia's grim tally of executions," said Philip Luther,
deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa program. "It is cruel
and inhumane to put anyone to death, but it is particularly outrageous
to do so when the executions take place after grossly unfair procedures
and when they take the lives of individuals accused of committing crimes
when they were still minors."

The men were among seven arrested in 2004
and held incommunicado at police stations in Madina, where they were allegedly
beaten in an attempt to make them confess. Four years later, in February
2008, the Madina General Court sentenced five of them to death after a
trial that was held in secret. Their sentences were upheld by the Court
of Cassation in Makkah in July 2008.  

Two other men in the same case--Bilal Bin
Muslih Bin Jabir al-Muwallad, a Saudi Arabian, and Ahmad Hamid Muhammad
Sabir, a Chadian, who were just 15 and 13 respectively at the time of their
alleged offenses--were sentenced to "severe flogging" on the same charges,
in addition to terms of imprisonment. Specifically, they will receive 1,500
and 1,250 severe lashes respectively, administered in installments at 10-day
intervals in public at the scene of the offences. Saudi Arabia is a state
party to the U.N.
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment
or Punishment, which expressly prohibits the use of punishments such as
flogging.  

Due to the strict secrecy of the criminal
justice system, it is not possible to know how many of those convicted
of crimes committed when they were under 18 have been put to death in Saudi
Arabia, but Amnesty International is aware of at least eight other juveniles
who are feared to be on death row. They include Rizana Nafeek, a Sri Lankan
national who was 17 at the time of the alleged murder for which she was
sentenced to death following her arrest in 2005. They may also include
Sultan Kohail, a 16-year-old Canadian national who is facing trial in an
adult court on murder charges, along with his brother Mohamed Kohail, aged
22, who has been sentenced to death.

Saudi Arabia is also a state party to the
Convention on the Rights of the Child, which expressly prohibits the execution
of juveniles. Saudi Arabian officials have maintained that they comply
with this obligation because they do not execute children. In fact, the
Convention prohibits executions for crimes committed while a person is
under 18, regardless of when the sentence is carried out.

Amnesty International has repeatedly raised
the cases of these seven men with the Saudi Arabian authorities in the
past year.

Background

These executions increase to 36 the number
of people executed in Saudi Arabia this year. In 2008, a total of 102 people
were killed by Saudi authorities.

Trial proceedings usually take place behind
closed doors without adequate legal representation, and invariably fall
short of international fair trial standards. Both children and adults are
often convicted on the basis of "confessions" obtained under
duress, including torture or other ill-treatment during incommunicado detention.

In a recent report on the use of the death
penalty in Saudi Arabia, Amnesty International highlighted the extensive
use of the death penalty as well as the disproportionately high number
of executions of foreign nationals from developing countries.

For further information please see Saudi
Arabia: Affront to Justice: Death Penalty in Saudi Arabia
: http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/report/saudi-arabia-executions-target-foreign-nationals-20081014

         

 

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