Friday, 22 Sep 2023

Saudi family urges US to intervene in teens possible death sentence

Saudi family urges US to intervene in teens possible death sentence


Saudi family urges US to intervene in teens possible death sentence

Two Saudis who were arrested and allegedly tortured for crimes they were accused of committing as minors are facing an imminent threat of execution, in what human rights experts say is a sign of the kingdom's violation of its own promise to end death penalty cases against child defendants.

In a letter to the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, a family member of one defendant, Abdullah al-Derazi, describes how Abdullah was swept off the street and disappeared for three months in August 2014 for protest crimes he is alleged to have committed when he was 17 years old.

"Saudi Arabia's government is deaf to our cries but it will listen to you," the letter said. "You can help bring our sweet and sensitive boy home and prevent him being taken from us forever."

In their appeal, the family urged Blinken to intervene on Abdullah's behalf, saying the young man from the Qatif region of Saudi Arabia had been rounded up by authorities and imprisoned in order to "scare people to stop them from protesting".

The other case concerns Youssef al-Manasif, who according to a new report by Reprieve - which is representing both men - was accused of crimes including attending funerals between the ages of 15 and 17 that were deemed to be "protests" by Saudi authorities. Reprieve claims Youssef was tortured and coerced into signing a false confession, was denied legal representation.

Both cases are currently being reviewed by Saudi Arabia's supreme court. If their sentences are upheld, both would be at risk of execution, which could happen imminently and without notice, Reprieve said.

Saudi Arabia issued a royal decree to abolish the death penalty for children in 2020, stating unequivocally that individuals would not be sentenced to death for crimes committed when they were minors. But the kingdom has since then upheld the death penalty in a number of cases involving minor defendants.

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