Saudi Arabia to review all death sentences for childhood crimes
The Saudi Human Rights Commission has announced that, following a royal decree, the sentences of all people convicted of childhood crimes will be reviewed.
According to a new Royal Order, all authorities must suspend the application of the death penalty for those convicted while they were minors, pending a review of their sentence.
The Human Rights Commission released a statement saying: “According to the Royal Order issued earlier this year, all authorities are mandated with halting application of the death penalty for those convicted of crimes committed while they were minors. Authorities are instructed to review such cases and re-sentence individuals based on the Saudi Juvenile Law.”
The death sentences of three individuals who were convicted and sentenced for terror offences as minors have been suspended.
Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon and Abdullah al-Zaherwere will have their cases reviewed and be re-sentenced based on the Saudi Juvenille Law which stipulates that the maximum sentence for anyone convicted of a crime committed while they are a minor is 10 years imprisonment.
President of the Human Rights Commission, Awwad Alawwad, said: “The Juvenile Law is a progressive law, designed to punish wrongdoing as well as provide stronger protection for our youth.
“The Royal Order to abolish the use of the death penalty in these cases is comprehensive. And it applies retroactively, even in criminal cases adjudicated before its introduction.”
European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights (ESOHR) director, Ali al-Dubaisi, said: “The abolition of the death penalty for all children in Saudi Arabia would be a tremendous step forward for human rights, not only in Saudi Arabia, but in the entire Gulf region.
“However, there are still nine people facing death sentences for childhood crimes - how their cases proceed will determine whether Saudi Arabia can truly claim to have stopped executing children.”
Taha al-Hajji, ESOHR legal consultant and lawyer for Ali al-Nimr, said: “The dark cloud of his execution has cast a shadow on Ali since he was 15. It took nine years of his life for that cloud to disappear, but he is finally safe from the death penalty. I now look to the government to deliver him securely into the arms of his family.”