End The Death Penalty In the news

Saudi Arabia releases protester arrested as a minor after commuting his death sentence

Saudi Arabia has released Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, a Saudi citizen who faced the death sentence for participating in protests when he was 17, following a Saudi decision earlier this year to commute death sentences for individuals who committed crimes while minors. Nimr was arrested in February 2012 for joining demonstrations in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province.

Hundreds of people were arrested in the protests, and more than a dozen demonstrators and several police officers were killed. In February 2012, Nimr was arrested while leaving school. He was sentenced to death in 2015, as were two others — Dawood al-Marhoon and Abdullah al-Zaher. All three were accused of participating in the 2011-2012 Qatif protests, and all three were underage at the time.

“Ali’s release is a tangible sign of progress,” Maya Foa, the organization’s director, said in a statement to The Post “but the fact is, the Kingdom still sentences people to death for childhood crimes.”

She mentioned the case of Abdullah al-Howaiti, 19, who is on death row after being convicted of robbing a jewelry store of more than $200,000 in gold, wounding two employees and fatally shooting a police officer. At the time of the crime, Howaiti was 14.

“Like Ali, Abdullah al-Howaiti was arrested when he was a child, tortured into making a false confession and convicted in a deeply unfair trial,” Foa said. “While Abdullah remains on death row, at risk of execution, any claims by Saudi Arabia to have ended the death penalty for children are an empty PR exercise.” Read the full story in the Washington Post.