Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr, a 17 year old Saudi Arabian, was arrested in February 2012, and is slated to be executed by crucifixion at the hands of the Saudi Arabian government, who disregarded any form of due process whatsoever to prosecute al-Nimr under the charge of “encouraging pro-democracy protests using a Blackberry.”
For this alleged crime, al-Nimr will be taken to a public square and have his head chopped off as onlookers watch, leaving his corpse hung there for people to see as a warning. Al-Nimr was tortured into giving a false confession, never had a lawyer, had his appeal done in secret without his knowledge. A criminal justice system as medieval and gruesome as this should not exist in the world today.
“Saudi Arabia may so far this year have executed at least 134 people, which already represents 44 more than the total for the whole of last year,” United Nations Human Rights Experts wrote in a press release. “Such a surge in executions in the country makes Saudi Arabia a sad exception in a world where States are increasingly moving away from the death penalty.”
To allow this crucifixion to occur is an inexcusable injustice and contradicts International Law as well as the law of the Saudi Arabian government. Saudi Arabia’s recent appointment to the UN’s Human Rights Council is a farce when they perpetuate egregious human rights violations and enact barbaric methods of punishment themselves.
The European parliament recently passed a resolution urging Saudi Arabia to stop the execution and issue a moratorium on the death penalty. The Prime Minister of France, Francois Hollande, has also spoken out to Saudi Arabia on behalf of Al-Nimr. The leader of the Labour Party in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn, has called upon the UK Prime Minister David Cameron to put pressure on the Saudis as well. As a global leader, the United States cannot be silent when such stark human rights violations occur at the hands of our presumed allies. The Obama administration
Al-Nimr’s family is extremely worried that his execution can come at any moment. The last time they spoke with him, he reported being kept in solitary confinement. The boy’s fate lies in the hands of 79 year old King Salman, who has already been under intense scrutiny over Saudi Arabian led bombings in Yemen that have killed thousands of civilians, and two tragic incidents in September, a crane collapsing and a stampede, that killed hundreds of people in Mecca.
The alleged reason for Al-Nimr’s arrest and sentence is surmised to be his relation to his uncle, Nimr al-Nimr, a well-known Shiite cleric. His uncle was a leader of protests against the Saudi government, demanding they treat Shiites, a minority in Saudi Arabia, as equals. The uncle was shot in the back of a police car in 2012. As subsequent protests increased, so did the charges filed against the boy.
Saudi Arabia is abusing its power to dissuade any forms of dissent, and has one of the highest execution rates in the World. The country has dismissed criticism as protecting the rights of the killer. The United Nations and global leaders need to put more pressure on Saudi Arabia to curb their human rights violations. Instead, Saudi Arabia was selected as one of the nations to oversee a United Nations panel on human rights. In September, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Geneva was elected chair of the UN Human Rights Council that appoints independent experts to investigate violation claims. The legitimacy of the council is completely undermined by having a leader presiding over it that perpetuates human rights violations within their own borders on a regular basis. The United Nations should be holding the perpetrators of human rights violations accountable, not rewarding them. Calling on Saudi Arabia to release Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr is an opportunity to reverse lax policies that accept such cruel forms of capital punishment to go without any sort of repercussions. The Death Penalty has no place in the 21st century,” said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon in a press release. The words and policies of the United Nations are completely pointless if they refuse to capitalize on the opportunity to call out Saudi Arabia to change their practices.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this post stated that Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr died as a result of gunshot wounds received during a 2012 arrest. He was wounded, but not killed.