Saudi Shia Youth Faces Execution for Protesting

Saudi Shia Youth Faces Execution for Protesting
Saudi Shia Youth Faces Execution for Protesting

In Saudi Arabia–which, paradoxically, was recently elected chair of the UN Human Rights Council–protesting against the government is an act punishable by death.

Ali al-Nimr was only 17 years old when he was arrested in 2012 for taking part in Arab Spring demonstrations in Qatif, a district in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province.

Authorities accused the young man–a nephew of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who was himself sentenced to death in October 2014–of belonging to a criminal organization and attacking police. Nimr was sentenced to death in May and, after losing his final appeal last week, can now be executed at any time, AFP reported.

Sheikh Nimr was a leading force in organizing demonstrations in Eastern Province in 2011.

A group of independent UN human rights experts issued a statement on Tuesday urging Saudi Arabia to halt Nimr’s execution, saying that the young man was coerced into giving a confession after he was “reportedly tortured and subjected to ill-treatment”.

The UN experts added that Nimr “did not receive a fair trial and his lawyer was not allowed to assist him properly and was prevented from accessing his case file”. They also said that they had reliable information indicating that the appeals process had been carried out with “a complete disregard for international standards”.

“Any judgment imposing the death penalty upon persons who were children at the time of the offence, and their execution, is incompatible with Saudi Arabia’s international obligations,” the experts said.

According to media reports, the young man will be beheaded and his body crucified in public view. The barbaric practice is reminiscent of the Islamic State group’s methods in the northern Syrian village of Raqqa.