UK Govt to continue with Saudi prison support as juvenile crucifixion looms

September 16, 2015

Image of prison bars

The British Government has announced that it plans to continue a bid to provide support to the Saudi Arabian prisons system, despite the Kingdom’s plan to carry out the ‘crucifixion’ of a prisoner convicted as a child.

UK Ministers had to correct the Parliamentary record today (Wednesday 16 Sept) after wrongly claiming that they were unable to drop the bid due to the risk of “financial penalties.” The only reason now given for continuing with the bid is that “withdrawing at this late stage would be detrimental to [Her Majesty’s Government’s] wider interests.”

It emerged this week that Saudi Arabia had dismissed the final appeal of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was arrested aged 17 and ultimately sentenced to “death by crucifixion” for alleged offences relating to anti-Government protests in 2012. With legal avenues now exhausted, Ali could be executed at any moment, with no prior notification of his family.

Commenting, Maya Foa, Director of the death penalty team at legal charity Reprieve said: “It is hard to see what British interests are strong enough to trump the principle that we should not be supporting the ‘crucifixion’ of juveniles. The UK should have nothing to do with a so-called justice system responsible for atrocities such as this. It is extremely worrying to see the British Government abdicating its basic human rights values in the interests of cosying up to the Saudis. British complicity in gross abuses such as these is unacceptable and has to stop.”


Notes to editors

The corrected Parliamentary answer provided by a MoJ Minister can be found here. The answer still states that “One project led by NOMS [the National Offender Management Service, an agency of the MoJ] is sufficiently far advanced that the Government has decided withdrawing at this late stage would be detrimental to HMG’s wider interests.” However, the record has been corrected to remove the claim that “NOMS is now liable for financial penalties should the bid be withdrawn.”