x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Human rights agencies urge Saudi Arabia to halt execution of seven

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International say that seven men, scheduled to be executed today, faced unfair trials.

RIYADH // Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are urging Saudi authorities to halt today's scheduled executions of seven young men condemned for crimes committed when they were minors.

The two rights groups said in separate statements that the seven Saudi men were convicted of armed robbery, a crime punishable by death in the kingdom which applies a strict interpretation of Sharia law.

"All seven men were between 16 and 20 when authorities arrested them in 2006 for allegedly committing a robbery in 2005," Human Rights Watch said.

"There is strong evidence suggesting that the trials of all seven men violated basic principles of the right to a fair trial."

Eric Goldstein, HRW's deputy Middle East director, said in a statement that "it will be outrageous if the Saudi authorities go ahead with these executions".

"It is high time for the Saudis to stop executing child offenders and start observing their obligations under international human rights law."

Amnesty International said the seven men were "tortured to make them confess" and sentenced to death following a "summary trial that was grossly unfair".

So far this year the Saudi authorities have executed 17 people. In 2012, the kingdom executed 76 people, according to tally by AFP based on official figures. Human Rights Watch put the number at 69.

Rape, murder, apostasy, armed robbery and drug trafficking are all punishable by death in Saudi.