A Saudi court has upheld the death sentence for a disabled man who attended a protest. The decision leaves the man with one last appeal before King Salman makes his execution official.
Munir al-Adam, 23, was arrested in 2012 on suspicion of taking part in political demonstrations in the Shia-dominated east of the country. He had impaired sight and hearing after a childhood accident and despite medical records proving his disabilities, the Saudi police allegedly tortured him until he signed a false confession. He was then charged with violent acts at a protest.
The authorities also accused him of “sending texts” but the manual worker was apparently too poor to own a phone.
The confessions served as the sole piece of evidence against him in a secretive trial at the Specialized Criminal Court. The court then sentenced him to death last year. Now an appellate court upheld the decision.
Human rights campaigners slammed the decision, calling it “shocking” and demanding White House intervention.
“Munir’s case is utterly shocking — the White House should be appalled that our Saudi allies tortured a disabled protester until he lost his hearing then sentenced him to death on the basis of a forced ‘confession’,” said Maya Foa, the director of Reprieve, a legal justice charity.
The latest death sentence comes after a period of several months when the SCC did not confirm any protest-related death sentences. Saudi Arabia is known for its human rights abuses and is also among the world’s top five executioners, with at least 154 death penalties carried out in 2016.
The decision follows President Donald Trump’s first visit to the kingdom. According to campaigners, Trump’s failure to raise the issue of human rights with Saudi leaders may have caused the country to move ahead with the controversial decisions.
On the contrary, former President Barack Obama raised human rights concerns during his visit to Saudi Arabia. Human rights were a regular part of the dialogue with the Saudis under the Bush administration.
“Today’s judgment shows that, by failing to raise human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, President Trump has emboldened the kingdom to continue the torture and execution of protesters. The Trump administration must now urgently stand up for American values. They must call for the release of Munir, and all others who face execution for simply exercising freedom of expression,” Foa said.