Saudi Arabia on Tuesday executed a man from the Shiite community who was convicted on charges related to an anti-government protest when he was a teenager, in what campaigners called a “deeply flawed” trial.
Mustafa al-Darwish was executed in the eastern city of Dammam for launching an “armed revolt” against Saudi Arabia’s ruler and “destabilizing security” in the kingdom, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.
Al-Darwish was arrested in May 2015 over his alleged participation in protests during the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 and 2012, said campaign groups, including Amnesty International, which added that he was 17 or 18 at the time.
“By carrying out this execution the Saudi Arabian authorities have displayed a deplorable disregard for the right to life,” Amnesty said in a statement. “He is the latest victim of Saudi Arabia’s deeply flawed justice system, which regularly sees people sentenced to death after grossly unfair trials based on confessions extracted through torture.”
Britain-based campaign group Reprieve said that authorities had not informed al-Darwish’s family about his execution and they found out “by reading the news online.”
Reprieve, which said that al-Darwish was placed in solitary confinement and tortured in detention, claimed that he was 17 at the time of his alleged offense.
In April last year, the kingdom announced that it was ending the death penalty for those convicted of crimes committed while they were younger than 18.
Citing a royal decree, the kingdom’s Human Rights Commission had said that individuals convicted as minors would receive a prison sentence of no more than 10 years in a juvenile detention facility.
“Once again the Saudi authorities have shown that their claims to [have] abolished the death penalty for children are worthless,” said Ali al-Dubaisi, director of the European-Saudi Organisation for Human Rights. “The cruelty of this execution, without warning, for the crime of joining protests as a teenager, is the true face of [Crown Prince] Mohammad bin Salman’s Saudi Arabia — not the endless empty promises of reform.”
Prince Mohammad, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, has sought to blunt international criticism over the kingdom’s rights record and its opaque judicial system, as he seeks to draw foreign investment and international tourists.
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