On Thursday 8 July 2021, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, highlighting the cases of Mustafa Hashem al-Darwish and Abdullah al-Howaiti.
Mustafa Hashem al-Darwish was executed on 15 June 2021 and Abdullah al-Howaiti has been sentenced to death; both were minors at the time that the alleged crimes took place, and both were tortured during interrogation according to NGOs reports.
The final resolution text was adopted to include, not only the issue of the death penalty but also, travel bans on women’s rights defenders, cyber surveillance, and the widespread use of torture in Saudi prisons.
The resolution expresses concern over the use of the death penalty against minors in Saudi Arabia despite claims that it has abolished such practices in the country since 2020. It calls for Saudi Arabia to comply with international law and refrain from all torture, cruel and degrading treatment of prisoners. The resolution strongly supports EU sanctions against Saudi officials responsible for grave human rights violations in the country and criticises the EU’s current “timid approach to public diplomacy on human rights” regarding Saudi Arabia.
The text reflects the European Parliament’s current sentiments on the topic. During the debate, for instance, MEP Marc Tarabella highlighted how continued impunity for violators of human rights inspires new terrible crimes and called for the EU to apply the Magnitsky Sanctions Regime against Saudi officials. MEP Hannah Neuman also called out the EU for continuing arms trades with Saudi Arabia despite the blatant human rights violations ongoing in the country.
The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) welcomes this resolution and supports MEPs in their call for greater accountability for human rights violations in Saudi Arabia and for stronger support towards human rights defenders. The use of the death penalty in the country cannot be allowed to continue, especially when it concerns children, nine of whom remain on death row.