Saudi Arabia’s imminent execution of two Bahraini youths 'arbitrary,' UN warns

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Bahraini nationals Jaafar Mohammad Sultan (L) and Sadeq Majeed Thamer (Photo via Twitter)

The United Nations has renewed its call on Saudi Arabia to stop the imminent “arbitrary” execution of two Bahraini men accused of trumped-up terrorism-related crimes, and to investigate allegations they were tortured and forced to make confessions.

The UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial summary or arbitrary executions, Morris Tidball-Binz, in a letter sent to Saudi Arabian authorities, said Riyadh should halt “any possible steps towards the execution” of Jaafar Mohammad Sultan and Sadeq Majeed Thamer.

Instead, Saudi authorities should fully investigate allegations that the men, who are both Shia Muslims, were tortured “to ensure that they are re-tried in conformity with international law and standards,” the letter, which was only made public earlier this week, read.

Saudi officials have reportedly responded to the letter but their response has not yet been publicized.

The UN said the Saudi government's response had not indicated whether an investigation into the allegations of torture had been carried out.

“We respectfully remind the government that any allegation of torture must be followed by an impartial and thorough investigation by an independent body,” it pointed out.

The world body also called on Saudi Arabia to “consider establishing an official moratorium on all executions as a first step towards fully abolishing the death penalty in the country.”

Back in May, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court upheld death sentences of Thamer and Sultan to death after finding them guilty of “smuggling explosives” into the kingdom and involvement in terrorist activities.

The two Bahraini nationals were arrested in May 2015 along the King Fahd Causeway, which connects Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

They were held incommunicado for months after their arrest.
Sultan and Thamer were subjected to systematic and fatal torture with the aim of extracting false confessions from them.

In January, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions called on Saudi Arabia to halt the men's execution, and investigate their allegations of torture and ill treatment.

International human rights organizations have called upon Saudi authorities to stop the imminent execution of the two Bahraini men.

The organizations have urged the officials not to ratify the death sentences, quash their conviction and re-try them in line with international fair trial standards.

Rights groups argued that the two Bahraini Shia men were sentenced to death on trumped-up terrorism and protest-related charges following a grossly unfair trial.

They stressed that Saudi Arabia’s judicial system has yet again displayed a chilling disregard for human rights by upholding death sentences against the two men, and their execution will constitute an arbitrary deprivation of the right to life.

Bahrain’s February 14 Revolution Youth Coalition held the Saudi regime fully responsible for the youths’ safety, calling on the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to take on his duties and intervene urgently to stop the crime.

The Bahraini opposition protest movement also called on the international community to stand up against Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and prevent the death sentences from being carried out.

Ever since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman became Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader in 2017, the kingdom has arrested dozens of activists, bloggers, intellectuals and others perceived as political opponents, showing almost zero tolerance for dissent even in the face of international condemnations of the crackdown.

Muslim scholars have been executed and women’s rights campaigners have been put behind bars and tortured as freedom of expression, association, and belief continue to be denied.

Over the past years, Riyadh has also redefined its anti-terrorism laws to target activism.

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