Saudi Arabia plans to crucify protester as it ascends to UN Human Rights Council chair

As a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Saudi Arabia is forbidden to execute anyone arrested under the age of 18.

September 24, 2015 13:16
2 minute read.
Flag of Saudi Arabia

Flag of Saudi Arabia. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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In a move that has drawn severe criticism from numerous organizations and activist groups from around the world, Saudi Arabia, which was tapped last week to head the Human Rights Council at the UN, is preparing to crucify and behead a protester who was still a minor at the time of his arrest, the BBC reported Wednesday.

Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr, a member of Saudi Arabia's Shi'ite minority, was convicted on a variety of charges including taking part in anti-government protests, breaking alliance with the king, sedition, rioting and attacking security patrols in 2011. Nimr was 17 years old when Saudi authorities arrested him.

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As a signatory of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Saudi Arabia is forbidden from enacting capital punishment against people under the age of 18. UN human rights experts also added that al-Nimr was subjected to torture and did not receive a fair trial.

"Any judgment imposing the death penalty upon persons who were children at the time of the offense, and their execution, are incompatible with Saudi Arabia's international obligations," the UN group said in a statement Tuesday.

Despite Saudi Arabia possessing  "arguably the worst record in the world" in terms of women's rights and dissidents, on September 17 the kingdom was chosen to lead a powerful five-member group of ambassadors, according to CNN.

Dubbed the Consultative Group, the powerful group has the mandate to select applicants for more than 77 positions in regards to country-specific and thematic human rights mandates, documents published by the UNHRC state.

As a result, Saudi Arabia has been targeted on social media platforms by vocal opponents, including journalists, politicians and the Geneva-based NGO UN Watch, which is a vocal critic of the international body, according to CNN.

Hillel Neuer, the NGO's executive director, said that Saudi Arabia's ascension to the leadership position of UN Human Rights Council was "scandalous," adding "Petro-dollars and politics have trumped human rights."

Hillel also said the "UN often describes these experts (on the Consultative Group) as the ‘crown jewels’ of its Human Rights Council...yet the world body only undermines their legitimacy by picking a fundamentalist theocracy that oppresses women and minorities to preside over the experts’ appointment.”

The practice of displaying publicly executed bodies, although rare, serves both a piratical and psychological purpose in the kingdom.

Saad Hamid, an expert in international law and Islamic jurisprudence, explains that "Death followed by crucifixion is the punishment in the Islamic penal code for a specific charge of attacking and targeting civilians and causing them deliberate injury or death with the intention of terrorizing them." 

Hamid went on to say that "The aim of showing such mutilation is a form of extreme deterrence so no one would even think of doing the same thing in the future."

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