Thursday, 21 December 2017 – Yesterday, Ali al-Nimr turned 23-years-old while on death row in Saudi Arabia. It was his sixth birthday in prison after being arrested in February 2012 for participating in a peaceful pro-democracy rally in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB) calls on the Government of Saudi Arabia to immediately release Ali al-Nimr and to drop all charges against him.
Ali al-Nimr was just 17-years-old when he was arrested on 14 February 2012 in Qatif, a town in Saudi Arabia known to be a center for pro-democracy demonstrations. After arresting him, officers of Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Directorate interrogated him and tortured him. Ali signed a confession that one of his interrogators wrote for him, even though he did not understand what he was signing. Throughout his interrogation and prior to his trial Saudi authorities denied Ali the right to speak with a lawyer.
Authorities referred Ali’s case to the Specialized Criminal Court (SCC), the kingdom’s national security court system that is responsible for trying terrorists. Ali had his first hearing in mid-December 2013, where he was charged with participating in demonstrations, chanting slogans hostile to Saudi Arabia, and possessing and throwing Molotov cocktails. In late-May 2014 after six trial sessions, the SCC in Jeddah sentenced him to death. His trial was conducted in secret, and authorities did not allow his family or lawyer to be present, nor did authorities tell them about the court proceedings.
Since his trial concluded in late May 2014, Ali has been on death row and he could be executed at any time. With his death sentence ratified by the king, all legal and administrative steps have been taken to facilitate the execution. Saudi Arabia has been known for carrying out death penalties without warning the victim’s family. Ali is at risk of capital punishment although Saudi Arabia is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 37 of which bans torture and the imposition of the death sentence.
Husain Abdulla, Executive Director of ADHRB: “Ali al-Nimr was just a young man, a juvenile, when he was arrested and tortured into confessing to spurious terror charges. Yesterday marked yet another year of detention for crimes he did not commit after trials that didn’t meet international standards. Because of this farce, he faces execution, despite the fact that Saudi Arabia is a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and has thus expressly committed to not to executing minors. The international community must step up and hold Saudi Arabia accountable to its international treaty commitments and call for Ali al-Nimr’s immediate release.”
Yesterday marked Ali al-Nimr’s sixth birthday in prison, after Saudi authorities arrested him as a juvenile in 2012. He faces execution at any time despite being convicted of crimes he did not commit after being tortured into confessing. ADHRB calls on Saudi Arabia to immediately release Ali and to drop all charges against him. We further call on the kingdom to respect and uphold its international treaty commitments, including to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and to promulgate legislation ensuring that minors cannot face execution.