On 10 March 2017, Zena el-Esia of the European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights delivered an oral intervention in conjunction with ADHRB at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council. She participated in the Item #3 General Debate, delivering an oral intervention highlighting specific cases of concern relating to the death penalty and the use of torture to extract coerced confessions. Please continue reading for full remarks or click here to download a PDF.

Mr President,

Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain along with European Saudi Organisation for Human Rights would like to highlight concerns related to the question of the death penalty and the related use of torture by some states. For example, Saudi Arabia systematically uses coerced confessions extracted via torture.  In 2014, Saudi sentenced 3 peaceful protesters who were minors to death: Ali Al-Nimr, Dawood, Al-Marhoon and Abdullah Al-Zaher, using torture based confessions to convict them. Equally, in 2016, protestors Amjad Al-Moaybid and Yusuf Al-Mushaykhuss received death sentences based on coerced confessions. All 5 urgent cases, have exhausted all legal barriers and are at risk of imminent execution.

We welcome the special Rapporteur’s new torture report, particularly related to the use of torture in police custody and the extra custodial use of force by states. In 2016, Makki Al-Orayedh was tortured to death in Qatif police station, after 48 hours in Police custody. Similarly, Majid Bermanda, was subjected to lethal force, when he was tasered and beaten to death by Saudi police officers in the street. In both cases there has been no prosecutions.

We are also deeply disturbed by the deteriorating situation of human rights defenders. In Saudi Arabia for example, there is ongoing crackdown on the voices of civil society. Abdullah Al-Hamid & Mohammed Al-Qahtani, have already completed 4 years, whilst Tawfeeq Al-Amr, Fadhel Al-Manasif and Waleed AbulKhair continue to serve lengthy imprisonment sentences. More recently, Issa Al-Nukhafi and Essam Koshak have been arbitrarily detained, Nadher Al-Majed sentenced and Samar Badawi summoned for investigation.

We call upon all states, including Saudi Arabia, to ensure safeguards against torture, and end reprisals against human rights defenders.

Thank you.