Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

'Normal' is killing us.

Donald Trump is out of the White House. COVID-19 is fading, at least in wealthier nations. The world, they say, is returning to “normal.” That’s the narrative that the corporate media is selling. But there’s a problem: “normal” is destroying our planet, threatening our democracies, concentrating massive wealth in a tiny elite, and leaving billions of people without access to life-saving vaccines amid a deadly pandemic. Here at Common Dreams, we refuse to accept any of this as “normal.” Common Dreams just launched our Mid-Year Campaign to make sure we have the funding we need to keep the progressive, independent journalism of Common Dreams alive. Whatever you can afford—no amount is too large or too small—please donate today to support our nonprofit, people-powered journalism and help us meet our goal.

Please select a donation method:

For Immediate Release

Contact

Reprieve's press office: UK: donald.campbell@reprieve.org.uk / +44 (0) 207 553 8140 / + 44 (0) 7791 755 415 US: katherine.oshea@reprieve.org / +1 917 855 8064

Press Release

72% of Saudi Death Sentences Handed Down for Non-Violent Crimes

LONDON -

The vast majority of people facing execution in Saudi Arabia were convicted for non-violent crimes including political protest and drugs offences, according to new research from the human rights organization Reprieve.

The report includes data gathered by Reprieve on 171 of the prisoners currently on death row in Saudi Arabia. It finds that 72 per cent of those prisoners whose alleged offences Reprieve has been able to determine were sentenced to death for non-violent crimes – including attendance at political protests and drug offences. Reprieve has also been able to establish that of 62 of the 224 prisoners estimated to have been executed in Saudi Arabia since January 2014, some 69 per cent had also been sentenced to death for non-violent offenses.

Among those facing execution are prisoners who were sentenced to death as children, such as Ali Mohammed al-Nimr and Dawoud Hussain al-Marhoon. The two juveniles were arrested at 2012 protests, and were tortured into ‘confessions’ that were later used to convict them in the country’s secretive Specialized Criminal Court (SCC). Reprieve’s report also establishes that the use of torture to extract ‘confessions’ is widespread, with specific cases identified where prisoners have been beaten to the point of suffering broken bones and teeth.

The death sentences handed down to the two juveniles have provoked strong public concern from countries allied to Saudi Arabia such as the UK, the US and France. Yesterday, speaking to MPs both about Ali’s case and that of British citizen Karl Andree, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: “I do not expect Mr Andree to receive the lashings that he has been sentenced to, and I do not expect Mr al-Nimr to be executed.” However, Mr Hammond provided no details of any assurances received from the Saudi government.

Speaking to human rights organization Reprieve earlier today, Ali’s father Mohammed al-Nimr, said while he was glad politicians may have received some assurances from the Saudis, “the facts on the ground leave much fear and doubt". He revealed that Ali was now being held "in the solitary cells reserved for those facing execution", adding: "I tried to visit him yesterday but they prevented me.”

Commenting, Kate Higham, caseworker at Reprieve, said: “This report shows how Ali and Dawoud’s death sentences are just the tip of the iceberg. The Saudi government appears to be routinely sentencing people, including juveniles, to death for non-violent crimes such as attending protests. All too often, these sentences are handed down on the basis of ‘confessions’ extracted through torture, as in Ali and Dawoud’s cases. Ali and Dawoud are now being held in solitary confinement and could face imminent execution at any time. The UK and other close allies of Saudi Arabia must redouble their efforts to see the juveniles released to their families – they must also send a strong message to the Saudis that these widespread abuses are utterly unacceptable.”

###

Reprieve is a UK-based human rights organization that uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay.

Lawmakers Tell Biden US Has 'Moral Obligation' to Ban Landmines

"If the United States takes these steps it will be welcomed around the world."

Andrea Germanos, staff writer ·


Report on ICE Reveals 'Cruelty and Coercion' Against Hunger Strikers

The U.S. agency's systemic response of "coercion and violence," said an ACLU attorney, "speaks to the inherently abusive and inhumane nature of immigration detention."

Jessica Corbett, staff writer ·


Proposed New Oil Field in Scotland Ahead of Glasgow Climate Talks Decried as 'Obscenity'

"If ministers are serious about facing up to the climate crisis they must end their support for climate wrecking fossil fuels at home and abroad."

Julia Conley, staff writer ·


'We're Not Going Away!' Nonviolent Protest Over Voting Rights Ends With Arrests in DC

"We're saying across this country, it's time for people... to march on these Senate offices," declared Rev. William Barber.

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·


Leaked IPCC Draft Climate Report 'Reads Like a 4,000-Page Indictment' of Humanity's Failure

"This is a warning of existential risk. Of survival. Of collapse," said Extinction Rebellion.

Andrea Germanos, staff writer ·