Saudi Arabia will abolish the death penalty imposed on those who committed crimes while still minors, the kingdom’s Human Rights Commission has announced.
In a statement published yesterday, president of the state-backed commission Awwad Alawwad said: “The decree helps us in establishing a more modern penal code.”
Based on a royal decree issued by King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, the death penalty for those who committed crimes as minors is to be replaced with a maximum sentence of ten years imprisonment in juvenile detention centres.
Details of when the new ruling would come into effect were not provided and remain unknown. It does, however, fulfil demands by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that the death penalty should not be enforced on minors who commit crimes.
It also comes two days after it was revealed that Saudi Arabia would no longer use flogging as a punishment for crimes, bringing to an end the practice for which the kingdom has long been criticised.
These new rulings aim to modernise the Gulf state’s laws with the goal of helping it achieve its Vision 2030, an initiative driven by the controversial Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. Its goals, however, have been obstructed by its human rights record which has sharply declined and been under scrutiny in recent years due to acts such as its involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and the detention of political opponents – including minors – and their charge of the death penalty. It was also reported this month that the kingdom carried out its 800th execution under the five-year reign of King Salman.