Saudi Arabia executes 37 people in a single day, including three juveniles

April 23, 2019

Saudi Arabia’s official press agency has announced that 37 people were killed today in a mass execution. Most, if not all, were convicted in the Specialised Criminal Court (SCC), the Kingdom’s secretive and widely condemned anti-terrorism tribunal.

At least three of those executed were juveniles at the time of their alleged offences. This is a flagrant violation of international law, which prohibits sentencing juveniles to death.

Abdulkarim al-Hawaj was charged with participating in demonstrations, incitement via social media and preparing banners with anti-state slogans. He was beaten with sticks, tortured with electricity and chained with his hands above his head for several hours at a time until he ‘confessed’ to other more serious terrorism offences.

Mujtaba al-Sweikat was arrested at King Fahd International Airport, on his way to begin his studies at Western Michigan University. He was severely beaten all over his body, including the soles of his feet, and convicted on the basis of a confession extracted through torture.

Salman Qureish was arrested shortly after his 18th birthday, accused of crimes that took place when he was a teenager. He was denied basic legal rights, including access to a lawyer. In June 2016, he was sentenced to death in a mass trial at the Specialised Criminal Court, despite repeated interventions on his behalf by the United Nations.

Many of the others executed were also tortured into signing confessions. Munir al-Adam was beaten so badly he lost the hearing in one ear. Abbas al-Hassan was beaten while blindfolded, forced to stand in stress positions for hours and deprived of sleep.

The Kingdom has executed more than 100 people in the first four months of 2019, and is on track to execute more than 300 this year.

Reprieve Director Maya Foa said: “This is yet another egregious display of brutality by Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman. At least three of the people executed today were arrested as teenagers and tortured into false confessions. Many were convicted of non-lethal crimes, such as attending protests. That the Saudi regime believes it has impunity to carry out such patently illegal executions, without notice, should shock its international partners into action. The US and the UK, in particular, must ensure there are consequences, and that no-one else is unlawfully executed for exercising their right to freedom of expression.”