Will al-Nimr be among the over 50 prisoners to be executed in Saudi Arabia? Three things to know
Despite international outcry, human rights experts worry that Ali al-Nimr will be put to death even though he was 17 at the time of his arrest. (AFP/File)
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Recent reports suggest that Saudi Arabia is preparing to execute over 50 prisoners convicted for terrorism-related charges. Some of those expected to be put to death are thought to be affiliated with al-Qaeda, while others were involved in protests calling for equal rights for Saudi's Shia minority.
Ali al-Nimr was 17 years old when he was arrested for his role in these protests and despite international condemnation, Saudi Arabia sentenced him to death. He was 18 at the time of sentencing, and his supporters say that he signed a confession after being tortured. Now there are fears that he will be executed imminently alongside over 50 others.
Here are three important things to know.
1 - UN human rights experts called for a halt on the execution.
Human rights experts at the UN urged for the execution not to go ahead, citing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child—a treaty to which Saudi Arabia is a party. The treaty does not allow for those who committed crimes as minors to be sentenced to death. Whether or not this will have any effect on how the Kingdom acts in the case of al-Nimr is unknown.
2 - Saudi Arabia is thought to have violated this treaty before.
In a highly publicized case, Saudi Arabia executed a Sri Lankan woman named Rizana Nafeek. Her parents alleged that she was underage at the time of the crime she was accused of committing, stating that the age on her passport had been altered so that she could get work in the Kingdom. Similar cases have also been condemned as violating the treaty, including those of seven men shot dead by a firing squad, despite belief that they were minors at the time of their crimes.
3 - The British foreign secretary said he doesn’t expect it will happen.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond was asked last month to give an update on al-Nimr's case and the case of Karl Andree, a British pensioner sentenced to lashes in the Kingdom after being caught with homemade alcohol. Hammond responded by saying that he did not expect either sentence to be carried out. He was right about Andree, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that he will be right about al-Nimr.
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