HRW: 8 child offenders face death penalty in Saudi Arabia

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Human Rights Watch (HRW) announced on Wednesday that Saudi prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against eight Saudi men charged with protest-related crimes, some of which they allegedly committed as children.

The rights watchdog confirmed that it has obtained and analysed the charge sheets for two group trials that included the eight men in 2019, explaining that: “Some of the crimes listed were allegedly committed while the men were between ages of 14 and 17.” One of the men, now 18, is charged for a non-violent crime he supposedly committed aged nine.

All of the men are from Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, where most of the country’s Shia minority reside. “All eight men have been in pretrial detention for up to two years,” HRW added.

Deputy Middle East Director at Human Rights Watch Michael Page expressed: “If Saudi Arabia is serious about reforming its criminal justice system, it should start by banning the death penalty against alleged child offenders in all cases.”

International law, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Saudi Arabia is a state party, prohibits the death penalty for crimes committed by children.

As of 11:20 GMT, the Saudi authorities have not commented on the HRW report.

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