Saudi Arabia Sentences Another Minor To Death
On 27th July 2016 the Specialised Criminal Court in Saudi Arabia issued its initial judgement, in which a death penalty sentence was issued against minor Abdulkareem Al Hawaj.
Al hawaj’s death sentence judgement is in addition to other detainees who are in danger of execution, and are issued trials that are not in accordance with international fair principles. Al Hawaj joins the list of nine other minors who have been issued with death penalties and are awaiting execution.
Al Hawaj, who was born on 19th November 1995, was arrested on 16 January 2014 by men in civilian clothing, and it is believed that these men were linkedto the General Directorate of Investigation.
The forces stopped Abdulkareem while he was on his way home from work, at a Check Point on Al Hadaleh Street in Al Awamia, Qatif. They pointed their weapons at his face and arrested him without presentation of any arrest warrant, and took him, with along with his car, to an unknown location.
The forces did not inform his family about his location, but after days of his disappearance his family came to know of his location via unofficial sources, who informed them that he had been arrested by the authorities.
Abdulkareem was arrested for five months, where he was placed in solitary confinement, during which time he was not allowed to communicate with the outside world or with person, including family members.
He was subjected to torture during his investigation, and the purpose of the torture tortured him coerce him into confessing to the trumped up charges levied against him. During his torture ordeal, he was beaten by sticks and electric wires and kicked by officers with heavy shoes. His hands were chained high for more than 12 hours and he was prevented using the bathroom in this time.
In addition to the physical torture, he also faced psychological torment by being insulted, as well as threats to kill his parents and remove his nails.
Abdulkareem was forbidden from contact with any lawyer during the investigation period, but finally after two years, at the beginning of court session, his family appointed a lawyer for him.
The family were subjected to harassment during their visiting time and the lawyer also subjected to harassment and the court failed to respond to the lawyer legitimate and lawful requests requests.
Abdulkareem was accused of non-violent charges whilst he was a minor, and confessions for these charges were extracted from him via torture. Despite this, the court judgement culminated initial death penalty sentence.
The charges against Al-Hawaj, are not considered to be ‘the most serious of crimes’ and many of the charges levied against him relate to freedom of opinions and expression.
These charges are:
Involvement in a shooting towards policemen while he was injured in this accident and went to the hospital.
Involved in some marches and demonstrations.
Igniting tires on fire.
Preparing some placards with slogans against the kingdom.
Throwing Molotov bombs.
Participation in Social media.
Used of the app ‘Whatsapp’ & ‘Zilo’ to locate the checkpoints.
Sympathy with Bahrain Opposition.
ESOHR confirmed that Abdulkareem Al Hawaj’s case, contained multiple violations which began from the time of arrest until announcement of the court judgement. These violations contravene both international conventions and local rules and laws that Saudi Arabia committed to:
– He presented to the court after he completed two years from his arrested period, which is contravention of the Saudi Terrorist law that they used to judge Abdulkareem. However, this laws allows the authorities to extend the detention period indefinitely if the case require it (which does not comply with international norms).
– Abdulkareem was tortured, in violation of Saudi domestic of law that Saudi legality and the UN convention against torture, to which Saudi became a state party to in 1997.
– Abdulkareem Alhawaj execution judgement contravenes the convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Saudi is a state part. As Al Hawaj was accusations are related to charges when he was a minor at age 16. The death penalty Judgment is also in violation of the Arab Charter on Human Rights, of which Saudi Arabia is a member, as his charges do not represent ‘the most serious of crimes’.
ESOHR calls upon the Saudi authorities to release Abdulkareem without any attached conditions and demands that the death penalty by dropped. We also call for a re-trial which should be fair and impartial, in accordance with international norms.
The ESOHR continues to express deep concern from the tens of detainees who have been issued with death sentences, amongst whom are several minors.
ESOHR would also like to highlight that Saudi Arabia executed more than 110 individuals since the beginning of 2016. This comes despite criticism and condemnation legal experts during legal analysis on death sentences issued in Saudi Arabia.