Friday, September 17

Mustafa al Darwish, the young Saudi man sentenced to death for a crime committed when he was a minor



Mustafa al Darwish He could be executed after his case has been referred to the Presidency of State Security, after the prior confirmation of the death penalty by the Supreme Court. The 26-year-old Saudi man was arrested for allegedly participating in the riots that took place between 2011 and 2012. At the time he was arrested, the Saudi was between 17 or 18 years old.

Faced with this news, Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, has expressed her disagreement. “The Saudi authorities must immediately stop all plans to execute Mustafa al Darwish, who was found guilty of participating in anti-government riots and sentenced to death after a judgment riddled with deficiencies based on a ‘confession’ obtained through torture. The time to save his life is quickly running out.

“Mustafa al Darwish could have been 17 or 18 at the time”

He also explained, in relation to Mustafa al Darwish’s age, that “international human rights law strictly prohibits the use of the death penalty against persons under 18 years of age at the time of the crime.”

Based on the lack of information in the minutes on the exact month in which the crimes occurred, “Mustafa al Darwish could have been 17 or 18 years old at that time.”

Mallouf has asked, in turn, for the opportunity of a fair new trial for the young Saudi. “Instead of executing Mustafa al Darwish, the authorities should immediately overturn his conviction and order that he be tried again with due guarantees.”

Arrest of Mustafa al Darwish

The young Saudi was in solitary confinement and incommunicado for six months. In addition, he was also not allowed access to legal aid, that is, to a defense by a lawyer, until his trial began, after two years of waiting. This fact, in turn, also violated the young man’s right to a fair trial.

The Specialized Criminal Court sentenced Mustafa to death in March 2018, accused of “participating in armed rebellion against the rulers, blocking roads and sowing discord”, “forming […] an armed terrorist network and shoot at security agents “and” seek the breakdown of national cohesion through their participation in more than 10 riots, “according to Amnesty International.

Death penalty in Saudi Arabia

Despite the fact that executions in 2019 tended to decline in most countries, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen and South Sudan they were the exception. In 2019, in the case of Saudi Arabia, the authorities executed a total of 184 people: six women and 178 men.

These data represent the highest number of executions recorded in a country, in a single year, by Amnesty International. The crimes for which prisoners are allegedly guilty are usually related to the drugs and murders. In addition, the organization also noticed the increase in the use of this punishment as political weapon against Shiites of the country for the dissent of this Muslim minority. As an example of this, on April 23, 2019, 37 people were executed in a single day, of which 32 were Shiite men. All were convicted of “terrorism” after undergoing a series of trials based on confessions obtained. under torture, such as beatings with electric batons.

Hussein al Mossalem was one of the men executed in April, after being detained and isolated. In addition, he is known to have suffered a myriad of injuries, including broken nose, clavicle and a leg. Mossalem appeared before the Specialized Criminal Court of Saudi Arabia, created in 2018 with the aim of trying cases related to terrorism, although, according to Amnesty International, “it is increasingly used to repress dissent.”

“The use of the death penalty is an abominable violation of the right to life”

Another fact to highlight is that half of the executions, in turn, were committed against foreign citizens. In 2018, the figure stood at 149 people executed by the Saudi authorities.

As Lynn Maalouf explains, “the use of the death penalty is an abominable violation of the right to life in all circumstances.” Regarding the Mustafa case, the deputy director explains that “going ahead with this execution would greatly undermine Saudi Arabia’s recent progress in the use of the death penalty, which reduced executions by 85% in 2020.”

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