Saudi Arabia is continuing to issue and ratify the death penalty for detainees who were arrested and charged as children, despite repeated assurances from the kingdom that it had halted the practice, a rights group has warned.
The Saudi Arabian authorities have promised to end the use of the death penalty in such cases, yet the brutal reality is that these young men are facing the risk of execution or beheading.
In addition to Abdullah al-Huwaiti, at least four juveniles are at imminent risk of execution: Jalal al-Labbad, Sajjad Yassin, Yusuf al-Manasif and Hassan Zaki al-Faraj, after an appeals court upheld their sentences between June and October this year.
According to rights sources in Saudi Arabia, these minors were tortured in order to extract their confessions, and their trials are still ongoing despite not enjoying fair trial rights.
Sentencing people to death for crimes committed when they were under the age of 18 is a clear violation of international human rights law.
Despite a juvenile law prohibiting the execution of children for murder, a royal decree applying this law retroactively, and two statements from the Human Rights Commission that children convicted of crimes worthy of execution will be sentenced to a maximum sentence of ten years in prison, the Saudi government continues to execute people convicted of crimes dating back to when they were minors.
Minors execution still ongoing
In 2018, Saudi Arabia introduced the Juvenile Law, which stipulated that for crimes committed by minors requiring the death penalty, juveniles should be admitted to detention centres for a period not exceeding 10 years.
However, the government carved out exceptions to the law which made it clear that the Juvenile Law as a whole, including those sections which define juvenility, does not apply in certain circumstances.
In April 2020, Saudi Arabia introduced a royal decree allowing the law’s provisions to be applied retrospectively.
Under international law, children may be detained only as a last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time, and sentencing a child to death is absolutely prohibited.
4 juveniles facing death penalty
At least four young men in Saudi Arabia are at imminent risk of execution after an appeal court confirmed their sentences between June and October this year following their grossly unfair trials, knowing that sentencing people to death for crimes that occurred when they were under the age of 18 is a clear violation of international human rights law.
In addition to Abdullah al-Huwaiti, the executions continue to threaten four other juveniles: Jalal al-Labbad, Sajjad Yassin, Yusuf al-Manasif and Hassan Zaki al-Faraj.
Global Rights Watch stresses that mass execution is a chilling demonstration of the Saudi Arabian authorities callous disregard for human life, calling on Saudi Arabia to not ratify these death sentences and to immediately halt all imminent executions and order re-trials that must be fully consistent with international fair trial standards, without recourse to the death penalty.