Friday, May 24, 2024

UN Expert Expresses Concern Over Imminent Execution of Abdullah Al-Derazi in Saudi Arabia

A United Nations expert has voiced serious concern over the impending execution of Abdullah Al-Derazi in Saudi Arabia, who was a minor at the time of his alleged crime. The UN Special Rapporteur on summary, extrajudicial, or arbitrary executions, Morris Tidball-Binz, highlighted the uncertain application of a 2020 Royal Decree aimed at abolishing the death penalty for child defendants, particularly those convicted of terrorism-related offenses.

Abdullah Al-Derazi, who was arrested in August 2014, faces execution for crimes he is alleged to have committed when he was just 17 years old. During his time in custody, he reportedly endured physical and psychological torture, and was coerced into signing a false confession in which he admitted to being part of a terrorist group.

Tidball-Binz underscored the lack of dates on the charges listed against Al-Derazi, and the prosecution’s sole piece of evidence being his allegedly coerced confession. The Saudi Supreme Court has recently upheld Al-Derazi’s death sentence, leaving him in immediate danger of execution. It is worth noting that Saudi authorities seldom inform the families or legal representatives of those sentenced to death before carrying out executions.

The UN Special Rapporteur acknowledged Saudi Arabia’s steps to improve the treatment of children within the criminal justice system, such as the 2018 Juvenile Act. However, concerns persist regarding the continued sentencing and enforcement of the death penalty for offenders below the age of 18, particularly when sentenced under the provisions of the Sharia legal system, which allows for mandatory and retributive death sentences.

The broader issue of the overly broad definition of “terrorism” under Saudi law was also highlighted by UN experts. This definition potentially labels civil disobedience and critical government views as “terrorist” activities.

Tidball-Binz called upon Saudi Arabia to publish the 2020 Royal Decree and enforce it consistently for all defendants below the age of 18, irrespective of their crimes. He further urged the Saudi government to contemplate implementing a moratorium on the death penalty and conducting a systematic review of all death penalty cases, with particular emphasis on those involving child defendants.

The Special Rapporteur emphasized the irreversible nature of the death penalty and appealed to the Saudi judiciary and other institutions in the country to ensure that Abdullah Al-Derazi’s execution does not proceed.

The case of Abdullah Al-Derazi underscores the broader concerns about the application of the death penalty for minors and the need for Saudi Arabia to honor its commitment to abolishing such penalties in line with international standards and human rights principles.

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Global Strat View Staff
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