04/27/2020, 10.37
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Riyadh bans death penalty for minors, after global record of executions in 2019

No capital punishment for those under the age of 18 when they commit a crime. Instead, up to a maximum of 10 years in a juvenile prison. Last year 184 people were put to death; over 800 since the rise to power of King Salman. A prominent human rights activist dies in prison.

Riyadh (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Saudi Arabia will no longer impose the death penalty on people who, at the time they committed the crime, were still minors.

This was announced by the National Human Rights Commission, stressing that the decision follows a royal decree by King Salman and the decision - taken over the weekend - to abolish flogging as a form of punishment, particularly in cases of violation of Sharia law.

The UN Convention for the Rights of the Child, which Riyadh has signed, states that the death penalty should not be applied for crimes committed by minors. A common practice in the Wahhabi kingdom, among the nations with the greatest number of repressions of human rights in the world, perpetrated also and above all by state apparatus.

Awwad Alawwad, president of the Saudi Commission, writes in a note that the royal decree cancels executions in cases of crimes committed by minors. In place of the executioner, penalties of up to 10 years in a juvenile prison will be imposed.

"The decree - he adds - helps us to implement a more modern penal code". However, at the moment there are no official indications on the timing of the entry into force of the provision.

In the Saudi monarchy of King Salman and number two (but real strong man) Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), the Supreme Court abolished flogging over the weekend, because it was considered a form of condemnation that "stains" the "reformist" image impressed by the Wahhabi leadership.

The Arab nation holds a record in human rights violations, amid the complete  disinterest of the international community, which is more attentive to the economy and petrodollars.

From the death in prison of opponents to the record of executions in a year, up to the displacement of over 20 thousand people to satisfy the grandeur of the crown prince, who wants to build a metropolis 30 times the size of New York from scratch.

Despite the proclamations of modernity, according to Amnesty International data, in 2019 Saudi Arabia carried out a record number of 184 death sentences, the highest in a single year. The executioner executed 178 men and six women, over half of whom were foreigners. In 2018, executions stopped at 149.

The executions figure confirms a growing trend in the five year reign of King Salman - but a trend that has accelerated with the rise of MBS – with over 800 people put to death.

This is a "double" figure compared to the previous five years when the predecessor king Abdullah was in power, under which between 2009 and 2014 423 individuals were executed.

Opponents and critical voices are not silenced only with capital punishment, because they often end up dying in prison following illnesses and denied medical treatment.

This is evidenced by what happened last week with the death in prison of Abdullah al-Hamid, 69 year-old figure in the country and founder of the Saudi Association for civil and political rights.

He had been in prison since 2013 following a 10-year sentence for his work in favor of freedoms and rights; NGOs and movements at home and abroad had long been calling for his release. The activist, who died of a stroke, had been in precarious health for two weeks but no doctor was able to visit him.

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