Saudi authorities deny medical help for protester sentenced to death as a child

November 12, 2015

Images of Ali al-Nimr

The Saudi authorities are refusing to allow Ali al-Nimr, who was sentenced to death aged 17, access to a doctor, according to his family.

Ali was arrested following anti-government protests in 2012, and sentenced to death in a secretive trial on the basis of a “confession” extracted through torture, even though he was a child at the time.

However, despite international criticism over the case, the Kingdom’s authorities are refusing to allow Ali access to a doctor, and today defended their plans to behead him in the UK’s Daily Telegraph.

A statement on planned ‘reforms’ provided by King Salman’s advisers to the newspaper said that they “cannot understand” calls to stop the execution of Ali and other protesters. The statement comes in the wake of an opinion piece written by the Saudi Ambassador to the UK, in which he criticized the British Government’s refusal to provide services to the Saudi prison system due to human rights concerns.

Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at international human rights organization Reprieve said:

“Despite claims of reforms, the Saudi Government remains unrepentant over plans to execute protesters, many of whom were sentenced to death as children. It is astonishing that they ‘cannot understand’ why there is such outrage over this issue. Worse still, they are now denying Ali al Nimr – sentenced to ‘crucifixion’ after severe torture when he was just 17 – access to a doctor. The international community should demand real reform, not smoke and mirror measures to hide these vile abuses.”


Notes to editors

1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] / +44 (0) 207 553 8140.

Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on: katherine [dot] oshea [at] / +1 917 855 8064.

2. Saudi Arabia has carried out at least 151 executions since last year, it was revealed earlier this week. See the Reprieve website for details.

3. Reprieve’s recent report on the use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia is available here.