UPDATED Profiles in Persecution: Munir Al Adam Executed

**Update 23 April 2019 – Today, the Saudi government carried out the executions of 37 men, including Munir Al Adam. His case had drawn the attention of UN bodies, including Special Procedures (SAU 5/2016 and SAU 7/2017), and the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) issued a decision on his case finding Saudi Arabia in violation of its obligations under the CRPD. Today’s executions were reportedly carried out without prior notice to the families. 

Munir Al Adam was a Saudi citizen and victim of torture who was executed with 36 other men on 23 April 2019. 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 became 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 had requested Saudi Arabia refrain from executing Munir while his case was still under the committee’s review. However, on 23 July 2017, the Saudi High Court affirmed Munir’s death sentence; this was the final ruling on his case and could not 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 kept him incommunicado. On 14 July the Saudi government transferred Munir to Riyadh, indicating that the detaining authorities were preparing to implement the death sentence.

ADHRB strongly condemns the unfair trial, sentencing, and execution of Al Adam. We call upon the government of Saudi Arabia to provide his family compensation for his arbitrary detention, torture, unfair trial, and execution in violation of international human rights law. Finally, we call upon the Government of Saudi Arabia to place a moratorium on the death penalty.