GENEVA (24 April 2019) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Wednesday strongly condemned the beheading of 37 men in spite of repeated appeals by the UN human rights system about the lack of due process and fair trial guarantees, allegations that confessions were obtained through torture – and the ages of some of those executed. One of the men’s bodies was subsequently put on public display.
According to available information, at least three of those executed were minors at the time they were sentenced to death in relation to their involvement in anti-Government protests. Most of the 37 men belonged to the Shi’a Muslim minority, and some had also been involved in protests. In several of the cases, various UN human rights experts had raised serious concerns with the authorities.
“I strongly condemn these shocking mass executions across six cities in Saudi Arabia yesterday in spite of grave concerns raised about these cases by numerous UN Special Rapporteurs, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and others,” High Commissioner Bachelet said.
“It is particularly abhorrent that at least three of those killed were minors at the time of their sentencing. I urge the Government of Saudi Arabia to immediately launch a review of its counter-terrorism legislation and amend the law to expressly prohibit the imposition of the death penalty against minors.”
Bachelet also expressed deep concern for the fate of those who remain on death row, including Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon and Abdulla al-Zaher, whose cases have also been taken up by the UN human rights system.
“I appeal to the authorities to halt the pending executions and to engage constructively with the UN Human Rights Office and independent experts on the many concerns related to the imposition of the death penalty in the country,” she said.
The High Commissioner reminded Saudi Arabia of its obligations to respect international human rights law, particularly as a State party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention Against Torture.