EEAS Spokesperson’s statement on the executions carried out in Saudi Arabia

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On 24 April 2019, Maja Kocijančič, Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations in the European External Action Service, released a statement on the execution of 37 men carried out in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday 23 April 2019.

The statement remarks it was the first time since 2016 that such a large number of men were subject to executions in a single day in Saudi Arabia.

The Spokesperson expressed all her concerns towards the negative trend regarding the death sentences use in Saudi Arabia, which is in contrast with the general trend, keener on the abolishment of such punishment, spreading in a growing number of countries.

Furthermore, the statement addresses the uncertainty regarding the respect of the fundamental minimum standard of justice on the right of a fair trial. It condemns the executions of people who were minor at the time of the alleged charges and acknowledges that some features of the executions, such as the identity of the minority of the men executed and the doubts on the gravity of their charges, are a potential threat to increase sectarian tensions in the country.

Finally, the statements strongly condemns on behalf of the European Union the use of capital punishment “in all cases and without exceptions”. In addition, it advocates for its abolition in all countries where it is still in force.

The European Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (ECDHR) welcomes the statement released by the Spokesperson and calls upon a further action from the European Institutions. Moreover, it reiterates its concerns on the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia and on the excessive use of the capital punishment.