Israa al-Ghomgham: an exception to the brutal rule

February 1, 2019

Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor has confirmed that Israa al-Ghomgham, a women’s rights activist imprisoned since 2015, is no longer under the threat of execution. The prosecutor had initially recommended a death sentence for alleged crimes connected with non-violent protests against the government and her work as a human rights defender.

Reprieve and the European-Saudi Organization for Human Rights confirmed the Prosecution’s decision, who now recommends charges carrying penalties including a lengthy prison term, fines and confiscation of assets. Four other people arrested at the same peaceful demonstration, including Israa’s husband, still face death sentences for similar charges.

In the first month of 2019, Saudi Arabia has executed 23 people, of which 16 were foreign nationals. At least 8 young men are at risk of imminent execution for offences committed as juveniles and connected to exercising their fundamental right to peaceful assembly.

Reprieve Director Maya Foa said: “This is welcome news, but the fact that four people arrested alongside Israa al-Ghomgham could still be beheaded for attending a protest shows how capricious Saudi Arabia’s use of the death penalty continues to  be under Mohammad Bin Salman. This is repression, not reform.

Teenage protesters like Ali al-Nimr, Dawood al-Marhoon and Mujtaba Sweikatremain on death row and could be executed at any time. The international community must keep up the pressure on Saudi Arabia and demand their immediate release.”