Saudi Arabia eliminates death penalty for juvenile offenders
Saudi Arabia has decided to halt the death penalty for juvenile offenders. The announcement came two days after the country banned the use of flogging, citing a decree issued by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.
The death penalty was eliminated for those convicted of crimes committed while they were minors, Human Rights Commission president Awwad Alawwad said in a statement, citing a royal decree. “Instead, the individual will receive a prison sentence of no longer than 10 years in a juvenile detention facility,” the statement said.
The decree is expected to spare the lives of at least six men from the minority Shiite community who are on death row
Riyadh, meanwhile, has said it adheres to UN policy on children rights, and that the death penalty should not be used for crimes committed by minors. It is being postponed from now on. United Nations human rights experts made an urgent appeal to Saudi Arabia last year to halt plans to execute them. “This is an important day for Saudi Arabia,” said Awwad Alawwad. “The decree helps us in establishing a more modern penal code.”
The reforms underscore a push by de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to modernise the ultra-conservative kingdom long associated with a fundamentalist strain of Wahhabi Islam.
Human rights activists say Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most human rights violators. It goes without saying that there is no freedom of expression in that country. Those who opened their mouths were the ones, were arrested. 184 people including minors were beheaded and executed in 2019, according to a report by the human rights organization Amnesty International. Following the 2018 assassination of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, the country’s authorities have recently made some changes to their rules due to global criticism.
However, many civil rights and women’s rights activists are still being imprisoned in the country. Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia’s most prominent human rights activist died of a stroke in prison. Abdullah al-Hamid has died because authorities did not pay attention to his health, human rights activists claimed.