U.N., Rights Groups Call on Saudi Arabia to Spare Young Man from Beheading and Crucifixion

Ali al-Nimr
Ali al-Nimr

A group of U.N. experts has joined rights groups in calling on Saudi Arabia to halt the execution of a Shiite man convicted of crimes reportedly committed as a teenager during protests inspired by the Arab Spring.

Ali al-Nimr, the nephew of firebrand Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, faces execution by beheading and an additional rare punishment of “crucifixion,” which means publicly displaying the body after death as a warning to others, according to Saudi state media.

“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 U.N. group said in a statement Tuesday, invoking the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Saudi Arabia is a party.

Arrested as a teenager
Ali al-Nimr was a 17-year-old high school student when he was arrested for taking part in Arab Spring-inspired protests in 2012 calling for social and political reforms in the country’s restive and predominantly Shiite province of Qatif.

A court later convicted him of charges including belonging to a terror cell, attacking police with Molotov cocktails, incitement, and stoking sectarianism, according to the state media report.

His final appeal was rejected when the Appeals Court and High Court ratified his verdict last week, the report said.

Human rights groups, journalists and politicians have expressed outrage, and many have taken to social media to call attention to the case — which coincides with the appointment of Faisal Trad, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva, to a Consultative Group for the agency’s Human Rights Council.

The appointment has sparked condemnation among activists and rights groups, including U.N. Watch, a nongovernmental agency based in Geneva that monitors the United Nations.

“It is scandalous,” said U.N. Watch executive director Hillel Neuer. “Petro-dollars and politics have trumped human rights.”

In response to the questions about the Saudi ambassador, Rolando Gomez, a spokesperson for the human rights council, told CNN: “Members of the Consultative Group are appointed by the regional groups, and not the Human Rights Council or any other U.N. body. These members serve in their personal capacity, not their national capacity, for a period of one year.”

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SOURCE: CNN
Schams Elwazer

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