Kuwait has executed 7 prisoners – the first since 2013 – just days after Bahrain carried out its first executions since 2010.
The authorities in Kuwait also announced that the age of eligibility for the death penalty would soon be lowered to 16. This was made during a talk warning students about the use of social media and the internet.
“We are witnessing a disastrous resurgence in executions throughout the Gulf – even as the UK claims it is helping to improve human rights in the region. Governments with close Gulf ties – including the UK – must urgently call on Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia to halt executions, before more lives are lost.”
Harriet McCulloch, Deputy Director of the death penalty team at Reprieve
The rise of executions in the Gulf
The execution of juveniles is illegal under international law. But in 2016 Saudi Arabia executed several prisoners who were arrested as juveniles. The Saudi authorities executed a total of 154 prisoners last year, nearing the previous year’s record total of 158.
At least three Saudis who were children when they were arrested remain at imminent risk of execution.
In Bahrain, there are imminent fears for two men who were sentenced to death after they were arrested in the wake of political protests and tortured into ‘confessions’.
The executions come as the UK seeks closer ties with the Gulf. During a visit to Bahrain last month, Prime Minister Theresa May told Gulf leaders: “We in the UK are determined to continue to be your partner of choice as you embed international norms and see through the reforms which are so essential for all of your people.”
Reprieve has urged the UK, and other governments, to intervene to prevent Kuwait from sentencing juveniles to death; and to take action to stop further executions in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.