Monday, August 16, 2021
Saudi Arabia recently sentenced to death Abdullah al-Huwaiti, a boy who was only 14 years of age at the time of the crime he was charged with. The court ignored evidence that his initial confession was obtained only after police interrogators had beaten him, deprived him of sleep, and "told him that his mother and sisters had been arrested and would not be released unless he confessed." Asmaa al-Omar & Ben Hubbard, Given a Death Sentence For a Crime at 14 Casts Doubt on Saudi Reforms, N.Y. Times, Aug. 14, 2020, at A6. The court also ignored cellphone alibi evidence that indicated he was not at the crime scene but at the waterfront. See id.
Article 37(a) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child prohibits state parties from imposing capital punishment or life imprisonment without possibility of release for offenses committed by persons below 18 years of age.
Saudi Arabia is a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. When it ratified the CRC in 1996, it entered “reservations with respect to all such articles as are in conflict with the provisions of Islamic law.” 1996 U.N.T.S. 316.
Objections to this reservation were made in 1997 by Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and Sweden.