Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul Aziz must halt the imminent execution of Jaafar Sultan and Sadeq Thamer, two Bahraini Shi’a men who were sentenced to death on terrorism and protest-related charges following a grossly unfair trial, Amnesty International said today.
In its 2021 annual review of the death penalty published today, Amnesty International found that Saudi Arabia more than doubled its number of executions over the previous year, with that spike continuing in March when 81 people were executed in a single day.
“These two men are at imminent risk of execution now that their sentences are before the King for ratification. They were sentenced after a deeply flawed trial based on torture-tainted confessions. King Salman should immediately halt the execution of Jaafar Sultan and Sadeq Thamer, annul their death sentences, and ensure they are retried in accordance with international law,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“In upholding these death sentences, Saudi Arabia’s judicial system has yet again displayed a chilling disregard for human rights. If the King ratifies their death sentences, their execution will constitute an arbitrary deprivation of the right to life.
“The Saudi Arabian authorities must order a prompt, impartial and independent investigation into the defendants’ claims before the court of torture and ill-treatment. They must also establish an official moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty entirely in Saudi Arabia.”
Jaafar Sultan and Sadeq Thamer were arrested on 8 May 2015 and held incommunicado in solitary confinement for three-and-a-half months. They were only allowed to call their families 115 days later, but prison officials did not allow them to discuss the conditions of their detention.
The Specialized Criminal Court sentenced them to death in October 2021 following a grossly unfair trial. They were tried on terrorism-related charges over the smuggling of explosive materials into Saudi Arabia and participation in anti-government protests in Bahrain. The Appeals Court upheld their sentences in April 2022. They could be executed in Saudi Arabia as soon as the King ratifies their sentence. In the absence of transparent information around judicial processes in Saudi Arabia particularly in death penalty cases, families only find out about the fate of their loved ones in the media after the execution is carried out.
Jaafar and Sadeq had no access to legal representation throughout their pre-trial detention and interrogations. According to court documents, they told the court that they were tortured and that their so-called confessions were extracted under duress.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature of the crime, the characteristics of the offender, or the method used by the state to kill the prisoner. The death penalty is a violation of the right to life and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.
Join Amnesty International’s Urgent Action to call on King Salman to halt these executions.