Saudi Arabia: Capital Punishment

Foreign and Commonwealth Office written question – answered on 7th May 2020.

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Photo of Alyn Smith Alyn Smith Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will make representations to his Saudi Arabian counterpart on the (a) application of the Royal Decree announced 26 April 2020 to (i) Ali al Nimr, (ii) Dawood al Marhoon, (iii) Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher and (iv) all other child defendants facing the death penalty and (b) subsequent commutation of their death sentences.

Photo of James Cleverly James Cleverly Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development)

Holding answer received on 06 May 2020

We welcome the decision by Saudi Arabia to end the use of the death penalty as a discretionary punishment for minors, including those under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged crime.

We remain concerned about the cases of Ali al Nimr, Dawood al Marhoon and Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher, and continue to follow them closely.

The Saudi authorities understand our position that we oppose the death penalty in all circumstances and especially in cases that involve child defendants. This position is in line with the minimum standards set out in the 2008 EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty; the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and, the Arab Charter on Human Rights.

The former Minister for the Middle East and North Africa raised our concerns about the death penalty with Deputy Justice Minister HE Abdullah Al Sulaimi on 11 February. The Foreign Secretary also raised our human rights concerns with Saudi Arabia during his visit in March this year.

We will continue to raise our concerns with the Government of Saudi Arabia to promote the protection of all child defendants against the death penalty regardless of the crime committed. We will encourage the authorities to review death penalty judgements for all minors, or individuals who were minors when the crime was committed.

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