Two Saudi teens have been sentenced to death for attending a protest when they were just 17 years old. The first teen, Ali al-Nimr, was sentenced to crucifixion and beheading while the second teen, Dawoud al-Marhoon, is set to be publicly beheaded for his “crime.” International outrage has done little to deter Saudi Arabian officials from reconsidering the brutal punishment of the teens. In fact, all legal options have been exhausted and the two teens may be executed at any time without notification to families.
The Daily Mail reports that Ali al-Nimr and Dawoud Al-Marhoon were arrested for their involvement in a 2012 protest when they were just 17 years old. Ali al-Nimr was charged with the crime of “attending a protest” and for teaching first aide to demonstrators at the protest. Additionally, the Saudi Arabian government charged him with using his Blackberry phone to urge more people to join the protest. As you can see from the outlined charges, the “crimes” are hardly crimes in any other nation outside of the strict Saudi rule. Despite the international outrage over the charges, both teens were sentenced to death for their part in the protests as teens.
In a show of brutal intolerance for protests against the Saudi government, Ali al-Nimr was sentenced to crucifixion which will include beheading and public display of his body. Meanwhile, Dawoud Al-Marhoon was sentenced to a public beheading.
It was pointed out that neither teen likely received a fair trial as they were tortured and held in captivity without access to a lawyer until they signed a confession for their “crimes.” Al-Marhoon’s lawyer says he was held in solitary confinement without access to his legal staff until he signed the confession paper that was the main piece of evidence in the case against the teen. Despite the allegations that the confession was coerced, the Specialised Criminal Court upheld Dawoud’s conviction and sentenced him to death by beheading.
Additionally, in an effort to squash future protests and ill words against the government, Saudi Arabia has threatened to execute those who “spread rumours” about the government on social media. This follows current efforts that already censor what is said on social media by Saudi citizens but provides the government extra means to press charges against social media offenders. A Saudi Ministry of Justice source allegedly told a Daily Mail source that only the worst “rumor mongers” will be executed while the rest will receive lashes, travel bans, imprisonment, or bans from social media.
Following the horrifying sentencing of the two teen protesters, some are questioning why the United States and United Kingdom aren’t doing more to express their disdain for the abhorrent behavior. The BBC reports that Prime Minister David Cameron has addressed the situation, noting that his administration has voiced its disagreement on these human rights issues.
“We have raised this as a government. The Foreign Secretary has raised this, our embassy has raised this, we raise this in the proper way. I will look to see if there is an opportunity for me to raise it as well. We oppose the death penalty anywhere and everywhere and we make that clear in all of our international contacts.”
However, Jeremy Corbyn says it isn’t enough and that the U.K. must stop providing services to Saudi prisons which are housing individuals who are not receiving due process such as Ali al-Nimr and Dawoud Al-Marhoon.
“Will you step in to terminate the Ministry of Justice’s bid to provide services to the Saudi prisons system – the very body, I should stress, which will be responsible for carrying out Ali’s execution?”
As of the time of this posting, the U.K. government has yet to respond to Corbyn’s concerns over the providing of services to the Saudi prison system. Meanwhile, the United States government is accused of aiding and abetting Saudi Arabia in its war efforts against Yemen.
Do you think the United States and United Kingdom need to send a stronger message to Saudi Arabia about their human rights issues?
[Image Credit: Getty Images/ Chip Somodevilla]