Legislators in the European parliament have voted overwhelmingly to pass a resolution condemning Saudi Arabia’s infamous criminal justice system, with an emphasis on the execution of minors.
The resolution was passed yesterday (Thursday 8 July).
Despite the fact that the Saudi Arabia state committed to abolishing the death penalty for all child offenders in 2016, it has continued to execute children since then.
On 15 June 2021, Mustafa Hashem al-Darwish was executed for offences he “may have” committed as a minor. He “was subjected to a prolonged period of pre-trial detention, torture, and a grossly unfair trial”, the resolution states.
Al-Darwish was arrested in 2015, and charged with offences relating to protests in the Kingdom’s eastern region. Al-Darwish was 17 at the time.
The resolution received 661 ‘yes’ votes to 3 ‘no’ votes. A small number of MEPs abstained.
In mid-April 2019, Saudi authorities executed six children, including Saeed al-Scafi, Salman al-Quraish, Abdul Aziz al-Sahawi, Abdul Karim al-Hawaj, Abdullah al-Asrih and Mujtaba al-Sweikat.
At least nine other child offenders currently risk execution.
As per the resolution, the European parliament “strongly condemns the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing execution of child offenders”, and “urges Saudi Arabia to genuinely abolish the death penalty for child offenders”.
The resolution also criticized Saudi’s criminal justice system in regards both terrorism and drugs offences.
“Despite the announcement of Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Commission on the moratorium on death penalties for drug-related offences in January 2021”, the resolution states, “no change in the law has yet been published, and the death penalty remains at the discretion of judges and the authorities”.
Moreover, European parliamentarians criticized the Kingdom’s treatment of both human- and women’s rights defenders.
“Numerous women arrested during the 2018 crackdown on women’s rights defenders were sentenced to long prison terms solely for their human rights activism”, the resolution reads, before mentioning the instances of the Saudi state releasing women’s rights activists, whilst maintaining travel bans and other punishments.
Perhaps most damning was the general claim that “Saudi political system remains profoundly undemocratic and continues severely repressing most dissenting voices despite the announcement of ambitious human rights-related reforms”.
The resolution threatened concrete action, calling on the “[European] Council to suspend all EU exports of mass surveillance technology and other dual-use items to Saudi Arabia that can be used to facilitate internal repression and silence civil society.”
The resolution was forwarded to the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.