SHAFAQNA – ESOHR – European Saudi Organization for Human Rights issued a statement this Thursday, warning about the pending execution of several dozens prisoners of conscience in Saudi Arabia.
“ESOHR are deeply concerned following reports from several Saudi media sources that a mass execution of 52 people will take place in the coming days.
Several indicators suggest that Ali Al-Nimr and two other minorsDawud Al-Marhon, Abdullah Al-Zaher, the prominent human rights activists Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr and three other young men Ali Al-Rebh, Mohammed Al-Shyoukh and Mohammed Al-Suwaimilwill be amongst those set to be executed en masse, following the recent endorsement of their death sentences. These seven were all arrested in connection with participating in demonstrations, and later sentenced to death on trumped up anti-government charges after trials marred with due process concerns.
Our concerns are based on several indicators from within recentnews reports on the mass execution.
- Okaz news specifically reports a number of these individuals will come from Al-Awamiyah (Eastern province).
- Al-Riyadh news details some of the charges of these 52 individuals, and some of these charges bear striking similarities with the charges levied against Sheikh Al-Nimr and the other six young activists.
- All the activists have recently been given an unexplained medical examination. Medical examinations are a common pre-execution procedure thatis performed by many countries around the world.
These 52 individuals are all to be executed based on anti-government and terrorism related charges. The group comprises of mix of individuals, who will all be executed across different regions of the kingdom in a single day. We at ESOHR categorically oppose the death penalty regardless of who is accused and the type of crime. Furthermore, numerous reports confirm that torture is practiced systematically and is widespread in prisons across Saudi Arabia, and the courts, especially the SCC does not adhere to the principles of fair trial, thus ESOHR believe that all 52 individuals (whose full details are unavailable due to a lack of transparency) did not receive a trial fair. Such a mass execution of this size is an uncommon move by the Saudi authorities and signals a new approach to the implementation of the death penalty and dealing with dissent.
Furthermore, we are deeply concerned for the lives of the seven innocent activists (three of whom were minors at the time of arrest). The mother of the youth have also issued a joint statement signalling their fear that their sons may be amongst the list of names in this mass execution. The youth activists Ali Al-Nimr, Dawud Al-Marhoon, Ali Al-Rebh and Mohammed Faisal Al-Shyoukh are all currently on hunger strike in protest against their unjust death penalty and because of the denial of basic needs and lack of access to amenites by the prison staff . They remain in solitary confinement at Al-Ha’ir prison in Riyadh. Furthermore, The third minor, Abdullah Al-Zaher, has been suddenly transferred to Asir prison. His regular family visit has also been cancelled as a result of this sudden and unexplained transfer.
This announcement of a mass execution comes in a year where Saudi Arabia has exceeded all previous execution records for the last two decades, with 153 executions to date in 2015, and comes after repeated calls from the international community to halt the execution of innocent activists.
The execution of minors will mean that Saudi Arabia has violated its international obligations with respect to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to which it acceded to in 1996. In particular Article 37(a) of the CRC states that ‘Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age’. Furthermore, international human rights law only allows countries that already implement the death penalty to only impose it on the “most serious crimes”. However, bearing in mind the peaceful nature of these 7 activists pro-democracy activities, there is no doubt that this criteria has not been met.
ESOHR calls upon Saudi Arabia to these executions and abide by it’s international obligations and to immediately all death sentences and abolish the death penalty.”