On 16 September 2016, Zena Al-Esia, Research Associate at ESOHR, delivered an oral intervention on behalf of ADHRB under item 3 at the 33rd session of the Human Rights Council on the use of arbitrary detentions by the Government of Saudi Arabia.

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Mr. President,

ADHRB along with ESOHR would like to raise concerns related to the illegal practise of arbitrary detention by some states. For example, Saudi Arabia systematically uses arbitrary detention for terms of months or years. In 2013, Saudi arbitrarily detained minor Murtaja Al-Qurayrees, aged 13, after participation in peaceful protests. Two years on, Murtaja continues to be arbitrarily detained without charge, making him the youngest political prisoner in Saudi Arabia. In 2016, Fahad Al-Fahad, a human rights defender, has been subject to arbitrarily detention for 5 months, whilst Israa Al-Ghomgham and Naima Al-Matrood, female protestors, also remain arbitrarily detained without charge.

We continue to share the Secretary-General’s deep concerns regarding the question of the death penalty, particularly related to violations of the right to life by some states. For example, in January of this year, Saudi Arabia arbitrarily executed peaceful social justice activist Sheikh Nimr Baqir Al-Nimr, during a mass execution, following a grossly unfair trial by Saudi’s notorious Specialized criminal court, after calling for reforms.

We are also deeply disturbed by imposition of the death penalty against minors. In 2016 alone during the same mass execution, Saudi Arabia executed four for crimes committed as children, three of whom were tortured by the authorities. Amongst them, young Chadian, Mustafa Al-Akbar and Ali Al-Rebh, a young peaceful protestor from Saudi’s eastern province.  In 2014, the same Saudi terrorism court sentenced three peaceful protestor minors: Ali Al-Nimr, Dawood Al-Marhoon and Abdullah Al-Zaher to death using torture based confessions. These minors are at risk of imminent execution.

We call upon all states, including Saudi Arabia, to end the practice of political executions, unfair trials, and immediately halt imposition of the death penalty against minors.