On 28 september, at HRC45 Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, and Reprieve deliver this statement on behalf of Taha al-Hajji, a former lawyer in Saudi Arabia on Promises to Abolish Death Penalty against Children.
Honored members of the council,
Americans for Democracy & Human Rights in Bahrain, the European Saudi Organization for Human Rights, and Reprieve deliver this statement on behalf of Taha al-Hajji, a former lawyer in Saudi Arabia. Taha spent years of his life defending his clients, many of whom were children, from the risk of execution by the Saudi government. For this crime, he now lives in exile.
Since King Salman came into power, his government executed 11 persons for crimes they allegedly committed as children. This same government lied to you in 2018 saying that it did not execute children. The year after, it executed six children.
In April and again in August, the Saudi Human Rights Commission announced that its government had abolished the death penalty against children. Yet in private circles, the Commission has admitted that the death penalty for children persists for a range of categories of offense.
The Saudi government has made a show of reviewing death sentences that are infamous before this Council, such as the case of Ali al-Nimr – who is still on death row despite the government claims. Yet children like Mohammed al-Faraj – arrested for attending a funeral at age 9 – remain at risk of execution for hudud crimes.
Publicly, the Saudi government said that it has abolished the death penalty for all minors. Privately, it hopes you’re just not watching.
The Saudi government seeks reelection to the Human Rights Council at this very session, in just a few days. Until the government makes good on its promise to completely end the execution of children, I urge you to vote no.