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Rights groups criticise Saudi failure to follow through death penalty annulment for minors

Protesters march in front of the White House bring attention to the plight of three Saudi Arabian youths, Ali Al-Nimr, Dawood Al-Marhoon, and Abdullah Al-Saher, all sentenced to death on 20 April 2016 [PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images]
Protesters march in front of the White House bring attention to the plight of three Saudi Arabian youths, Ali Al-Nimr, Dawood Al-Marhoon, and Abdullah Al-Saher, all sentenced to death on 20 April 2016 [PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images]

Human rights organisations have criticised the Saudi Arabian authorities for failing to annul death sentences handed down on five people who were minors when they were charged, despite promises nine months ago to end the death penalty in such cases.

Last April, the state-run Human Rights Commission said that a decree issued by King Salman in March stipulated that those sentenced to death when they were minors would not be executed. Instead, they are supposed to serve a sentence of up to 10 years in a detention centre for minors.

The commission's statement did not specify a timeline for the implementation of the decree. However, in response to a report by the international watchdog Human Rights Watch, the commission said in October that the decree came into effect the moment it was issued. The decree was not, though, published in Saudi media outlets or the official gazette.

Last month, the Kingdom's official news agency published a list of the most important events that took place in 2020. This particular decree was not on the list.

Read: Saudi orders review of death penalty for 3 arrested as children

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