THE British government was urged yesterday to redouble its efforts regarding the fate of three Saudi juveniles, who remain on death row a year after ministers said they were seeking “assurances” that they would not be executed.
Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher, Ali al Nimr and Dawood al-Marhoon were aged 15, 17 and 17 respectively when they were arrested for allegedly taking part in pro-democracy protests in the kingdom’s eastern province.
All three face beheading after they were sentenced in the secretive Specialised Criminal Court, on the basis of “confessions” which legal action charity Reprieve says were signed under torture.
The Foreign Office has said it has sought regular “assurances” from its key arms client, with Foreign Office Minister Tobias Ellwood telling Parliament last month: “Our expectation remains that they will not be executed.”
But the three juveniles remain on death row, and their families say that they fear the executions could go ahead without warning.
The British government has so far stopped short of calling for the death sentences to be scrapped — something that other governments, such as France, have done.
Reprieve has written to the Prime Minister Theresa May asking her to request that Saudi Arabia commute the sentences.
Reprieve director Maya Foa said: “Saudi Arabia’s ‘assurances’ that they won’t execute these three boys count for nothing when the kingdom has continued to behead juveniles and other prisoners, many of whom were tortured into bogus ‘confessions.’
“Theresa May must call urgently for these death sentences to be scrapped.”