Fears of Executing Defendants who were Juveniles at the Time of Committing the Crime
The families of detainees sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia tried to take advantage of the Saudi Crown Prince’s interview with Dominic Raab, to urge the United Kingdom’s Foreign Minister to urgently intervene to stop the executions issued against their sons, who were minors at the time to commit the crimes they are accused of.
On Thursday, June 03, 2021, a Saudi court upheld the death sentence against Mustafa Hashim Al-Darwish, who was arrested as a child in 2015 for his alleged participation in anti-government riots in the Shiite-majority Eastern Province.
According to Darwish’s relatives, he was subjected to prolonged detention in harsh conditions including severe torture before being presented before a politicized and unfair trial.
In a testimony which was widely published by human rights organizations and international newspapers, the family said, “We received the tragic news that the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence on Thursday,” noting that Raab’s intervention to ensure that Mustafa does not get executed would be “a brave gesture from him”.
The second defendant facing the death penalty is Abdullah Al-Huwaiti, who was convicted of murder and armed robbery by the Criminal Court in October 2019 when he was 17, along with five other defendants.
Al-Huwaiti says he was forced to confess to the alleged crimes under torture and his family claimed that CCTV footage proved that he was not at the scene at the time of the crime.
Although Raab met with bin Salman on Monday and discussed “common interests including trade, Iran and climate change,” there were no reports that Raab raised the issue of the citizens facing the death penalty for crimes committed when they were minors.
It is worth noting that Saudi King Salman had issued a royal decree last April to end death sentences for crimes committed at a time when defendants were minors, and according to the royal order, the juvenile system issued in 2018, applies to those who had final death sentences before its issuance, “If a juvenile is between 15 and 18 years of age, and has committed a crime punishable by death, it is enough to place him in a juveniles center a period not exceeding ten years”.
Together for Justice completely rejects all convictions issued in cases related to the expression of opinion, whether they are prison sentences or death sentences, and calls on the UN bodies and Western governments cooperating with the Saudi regime to intervene urgently to stop the implementation of these sentences and ensure the release of all political detainees, and grant them all their rights.
The organization also affirm that the current Saudi judicial system is politicized, therefore its rulings cannot be trusted as it refuses to open any kind of investigations into the statements of those accused of being subjected to torture or any other violations, and in return, it has turned into a tool in the hands of the regime to abuse opponents and discredit them.
The organization calls on the Saudi judicial authorities to comply with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s decision to “stop the implementation of final judicial rulings of the death penalty against juveniles, including all persons were under 18 at the time of committing the crime, including those sentenced to death for terrorist crimes.”