Amnesty urges Saudi to release man facing execution for alleged crimes committed as a minor
Amnesty International has called on Saudi authorities to immediately release a man facing execution for alleged rioting crimes committed when he was a minor.
The case of Mustafa al-Darwish, now 26, was referred to the Presidency of State Security in late May following a Supreme Court decision to uphold his death sentences on a roster of spurious "terror" charges linked to his alleged participation in riots between 2011 and 2012.
Amnesty International believes the referral signals his imminent execution.
"Saudi Arabia's authorities must immediately halt all plans to execute Mustafa al-Darwish who was convicted on charges of participation in anti-government riots and sentenced to death,” urged Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Slamming what she claimed was his confession through a "deeply-flawed trial", Maalouf cited Saudi Arabia's obligations under international human rights law, which has provision banning the death penalty for individuals aged 18 and under at the time of the crime.
While Amnesty opposes the death penalty in all cases and jurisdictions, Maalouf added that if it were to go ahead with the execution, Saudi Arabia would "greatly undermine" its progress in shunning the punishment, given it recorded a 85% drop in executions in 2020 compared to the year before.
Darwish was arrested in May 2015. During his detention, he was held in solitary confinement for six months and denied access to a lawyer until his trial began two years later.
In March 2018, a special criminal court sentenced him to death on charges which included "participation in armed rebellion against the rulers, blocking roads and sowing discord" and "seeking to disrupt national cohesion through his participation in more than 10 riots."
He would have been either 17 or 18 when had committed the crimes, according to Amnesty.
The call by the rights groups comes days after Darwish’s family pleaded with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to raise Darwish's case during his visit to the kingdom, noting that Riyadh had in 2020 vowed to cancel the death sentence for anyone who had committed crimes as a child.