Saudi Arabia should immediately halt execution of juvenile Ali Mohammed al-Nimr

Press release

(Paris) Ali Mohammed al-Nimr has been sentenced to death by crucifixion for his participation in an illegal demonstration during the Arab Spring pro democracy uprising, despite the fact that at the time of the offence, he was a minor. He could be executed at any moment.

“Saudi Arabia has already reached a macabre record of executions, with far more people executed thus far in 2015 than in all of 2014. Ali’s execution would be the paradigm of horror of the country’s application of the capital sentence. If it carries out the sentence, Saudi Arabia would be in violation of all international standards and commit a terrible crime. »
Karim Lahidji, FIDH President

Ali al-Nimr, a high school student, had just turned 17 when he was arrested on 14 February 2012 during an anti-government protest in the Shiite province of Qatif. He was charged by the authorities with participating in illegal protests and other offences including « insulting the King and delivering religious sermons that ’disrupt national unity », « explaining how to give first aid to protestors », and « using his blackberry to invite others to join him at the protest ».

Ali was held in pre trial detention for two years without access to his laywer, severely tortured, and forced to sign a false confession. During his trial, he was not given access to the evidence against him, and was informed of the charges at a very late stage of the proceedings. His forced confession was the only evidence brought against him. Ali was sentenced to death by crucificion on 27 May 2014 and even his final appeal was held in secret.

“International law prohibits using evidence obtained under torture. International law also prohibits to impose the death penalty on persons who were children at the time of the offence. This execution would thus be clearly incompatible with Saudi Arabia’s international obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, that it ratified. »
Karim Lahidji, FIDH President

Ali’s case seems to be linked to the case against his uncle, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, a 53-year old critic of the Saudi regime, and a prominent religious leader in the Kingdom. Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr has also been sentenced to death in his case.

« These proceedings are a complete mockery of justice. This sentence amounts to crual and inhumane treatement. If executed, Ali would be crucified for having exercised his right to freedom of expression. We urgently call on the international community to mobilise against this state crime that would shock the conscience of humanity. »
Karim Lahidji, FIDH President

FIDH, who is a member of the World Coalition against the death Penalty, strongly opposes the death penalty for all crimes and in all circumstances and works with its member organisations for its global abolition. The death penalty constitutes an inhumane treatment. FIDH has further documented that the death penalty is commonly pronounced after unfair trials, and its application is often discriminatory. FIDH recalls that the so called deterrent effect of the death penalty has never been proven.

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