Munir Al Adam is a Saudi citizen and victim of torture who now faces a death sentence. On 8 April 2012, security forces detained him at a checkpoint. He was accused of attending a pro-democracy protest and taken to the al-Qatif police station. At the police station, authorities subjected Munir to falaqa, or beating on the soles of the feet, and injured him so badly he could not walk for days.
Two weeks later, Munir was transferred to the General Directorate of Investigation (GDI) in al-Dammam. GDI officers forced Munir into solitary confinement. They kicked Munir all over his body, smashed his fingers and toes, which led to the loss of a fingernail and a toenail, and beat Munir in the ear so hard he experienced sharp pain and continuously heard a high-pitched whistling sound. Four and a half months after this injury, the GDI took Munir to a hospital, yet denied him the opportunity to have an operation that would have saved his hearing. Munir is now permanently deaf in one ear because of the abuse he endured at the hands of the GDI.
Munir remained jailed in al-Dammam for over three years and was refused access to any legal counsel. His trial began in September 2015 before the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC) in Riyadh. Though he was nominally represented by a lawyer in court, the authorities denied him contact with that lawyer outside of the courtroom, nullifying his right to consult with counsel and manage his own legal defense. The prosecutor charged him with participating in and organizing demonstration and a variety of alleged terrorist acts. In June 2016, Munir was convicted and sentenced to death.
In 2016, ADHRB and the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights (ESOHR) submitted a petition to the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities based on Munir’s loss of hearing due to torture. Saudi Arabia has submitted two responses claiming that the communication is inadmissible, citing groundless technical pretexts. Saudi Arabia claimed, for example, that the petition could not be accepted because it was not accompanied by signed consent from the victim or his family, but ADHRB and ESOHR had in fact previously provided the UN with signed consent from the family. ADHRB and ESOHR have submitted rebuttals on both occasions. (This correspondence is not published, but a separate letter to Saudi Arabia from UN special-procedures offices raising the case is available here.)
On 25 May 2017, the SCC upheld Munir’s death sentence on appeal. The UN committee has requested Saudi Arabia refrain from executing Munir while his case is still under the committee’s review. However, on 23 July 2017, the Saudi High Court affirmed Munir’s death sentence; this is the final ruling on his case and cannot be appealed.
The number of executions in Saudi Arabia has recently spiked. On 10 June 2017, the Saudi government executed six prisoners; four more followed the next day. On 12 June 2017, the Saudi government moved Munir to solitary confinement and has kept him incommunicado. On 14 July the Saudi government transferred Munir to Riyadh. These are probable signs that the detaining authorities are preparing to implement the death sentence.
These recent developments indicate that Munir’s life is in imminent danger. ADHRB fears that his execution may come any day. The Government of Saudi Arabia has violated Munir’s fundamental due process rights since his initial detention in 2012. The international community must continue to call on the Saudi authorities to respect the request of the UN committee to stay the execution pending a full, fair, and internationally monitored review of the trial. ADHRB calls on the Saudi Arabian government to comply with its binding legal obligations under its ratified international treaties, the Convention against Torture and the Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities.