UN calls on Saudi Arabia to stop the execution of the death sentence against a minor
This is also available in: العربية (Arabic) متوفر ايضا باللغة
Translated and edited by: Committee for Justice
Geneva, April 28, 2021
UN experts have called on the Saudi authorities to stop the execution of death sentences against minors, and to start implementing the royal decision issued in this regard.
The experts addressed the case of Saudi citizen Abdullah Al-Huwaiti, who is facing execution based on an unfair court, for a crime that was alleged to have occurred while he was 14 years old.
Confessions extracted under torture:
In their memo sent to the Saudi authorities on February 23, 2021, the experts said that on May 8, 2017, Al-Huwaiti, when he was 14 years old, was arrested on charges of robbery and murder. During his detention, he was forced to stand for long hours until he lost consciousness at times, was repeatedly slapped and kicked, and was beaten on the soles of his feet with an electric cable. He was also forced to stand idly by for hours in front of the air conditioner. After that, he was transferred to the criminal investigation in Tabuk, where he was tortured and forced to sign statements which he was not aware of their content.
The experts added that in Tabuk, a group of guards visited him in his cell at night and told him that he would be transferred again. Al-Huwaiti was blindfolded, and threatened with pulling a car and torturing him on the streets.
The experts pointed out that al-Huwaiti was transferred to the court, where he admitted his confessions before the court for fear of torture. On October 27, 2017, the Tabuk Criminal Court convicted him and sentenced him to death, and two were convicted with him and were sentenced to fifteen years imprisonment, a thousand lashes and a fine of 800 thousand riyals equivalent to the value of the stolen items. The Tabuk Appeals Court upheld the ruling, which is now awaiting approval by the Supreme Court in Riyadh for implementation.
The experts pointed out that according to eyewitnesses and surveillance cameras, Al-Huwaiti and his companions were present on the Daba Corniche at the time of the crime.
The royal decision does not apply to hudud and retribution:
Although the experts expressed their understanding of the royal decision announced by the Kingdom to stop executing minors who were minors while carrying out crimes, they expressed concern that the decision does not fully clarify whether it applies to cases of crimes punishable under ‘qisas‘ and ‘hudud’ Sharia punishments, and whether there is a concrete plan to abolish the punishment.
The experts also pointed out that the Al-Huwaiti court lacked due legal process and fair trial procedures, as he was unable to access his lawyer, was not arrested according to a judicial order, and was tortured in order to make confessions and confess them before the court.
Demands for a moratorium on execution and a retrial:
Under these circumstances, the experts called on the Saudi authorities to suspend the execution of Al-Huwaiti, cancel the punishment imposed on him, fully investigate his torture allegations, and to retry him in accordance with international law and standards.
The Saudi experts also demanded without delay the adoption of the necessary legislative measures to abolish the death penalty for children for all crimes, including crimes punishable under qisas and hudud.