Saudi Arabia commits death sentence to 3 male juveniles

Three men sentenced to death for joining the 2012 protests as the teenagers see their sentences converted to 10 years in prison.

Saudi Arabia has commuted the death sentences of three men arrested for participating in anti-government protests as minors, as part of the kingdom’s latest attempt to improve its human rights record.

The country’s Human Rights Commission (HRC) said in a statement on Sunday that Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon and Abdullah al-Zaher had been “sentenced again to 10 years in prison” and that the time they had already served would be taken into account, setting their release date for 2022.

The move comes after the kingdom last April ended the application of the death penalty to people who were legally minors at the time of the crime, except for cases involving the anti-terrorism law.

The three young Saudis, all from the Shiite minority community, were under 18 when they were arrested for “terrorism” during a pro-democracy protest in 2012.

“Excellent news for Ali al Nimr, sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia for participating in a pro-democracy protest when he was only 17,” said Maya Foa, director of British campaign group Reprieve, on Twitter.

Saudi Arabia, which has one of the highest death penalty rates in the world, saw a “drastic” reduction in the number of executions last year. According to the HRC, 27 people were executed in 2020, an 85% drop from the previous year.

The HRC also said last April that Saudi Arabia was abolishing court-ordered flogging.

Absolute Monarchy is coming under increasing scrutiny for its human rights record, especially after assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Arabian Consulate in Istanbul in October 2018.

Under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, its de facto ruler, Saudi Arabia has detained activists, religious leaders and royals in a sweeping crackdown on dissent over the past three years.

Joe Biden criticized Saudi Arabia for its human rights record before being elected US president last November.

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