Death penalties given to three young protesters in Saudi Arabia for alleged offenses committed when they were minors were commuted to ten years in Jail.
One of the prisoners, Ali Al-Nimr, was sentenced to death over his alleged role in anti-regime protests in the country’s Eastern Province in February 2012 when he was 17 years old. He is the nephew of Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr, a Saudi cleric who had called for reforms and was executed by the Riyadh regime in January 2016.
The Specialized Criminal Court had sentenced to death Nimr along with Dawood al-Marhoun and Abdullah al-Zaher, 17 and 15, after they were arrested.
Saudi Arabia’s state-backed Human Rights Commission said on Sunday that Nimr’s sentence, who has served more than nine years in jail since his arrest, has been commuted, adding that the two others’ were commuted in November 2020.
In all three cases, it added, time served would apply and they are set to be freed in 2022.
“Freedom soon, God willing,” Nimr’s mother said in a Facebook post celebrating the news.
The commuting of sentences has been made after the Saudi public prosecutor ordered a review of the death penalties issued against the three young men more than five months ago.
The death sentences of Nimr, Marhoun, Zaher and two other juvenile offenders have not been revoked yet.
Rights groups who follow the cases closely told Reuters in January that one of the five has appealed. Eight others originally detained as minors still face charges that could lead to their execution.
Anti-death penalty charity Reprieve says Riyadh should ensure the decree is applied to all juvenile offenders.
“True change isn’t about a few high-profile cases; it means making sure no-one is ever sentenced to death for a childhood ‘crime’ again in Saudi Arabia,” said Reprieve director Maya Foa.
According to a Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC) report in January, Saudi Arabia executed a record 185 people in 2019; the regime reduced the number by 85% in 2020.
In a statement in October, Human Rights Watch called on Saudi Arabia to stop the imminent execution of eight men charged with activities related to a wave of anti-government protests while they were under the age of 18.
Source: Tasnim News Agency