(Reprieve) -The Saudi authorities have sentenced a young disabled man to beheading in relation to his alleged attendance at protests, it’s emerged.
Munir Adam, 23, was arrested in 2012 in the wake of protests in the country’s Eastern Province. He was tortured by Saudi police into ‘confessing’ to involvement in protests. Munir has impairments to both his sight and his hearing, following an accident as a young child. Despite medical records that confirmed his disability – and a doctor’s warning that further trauma could worsen his injuries – police beat Munir badly that he lost all hearing in one ear.
Munir was sentenced to death in the Kingdom’s secretive Specialised Criminal Court, in which three juveniles – Ali al Nimr, Dawood al Marhoon and Abdullah al Zaher – also received death sentences in relation to protests. Munir was forced to write his own defence after he was prevented from speaking to a lawyer. Facing charges that included using his mobile phone to organize protests, Munir recanted his ‘confession’, saying that he had only signed statements under torture. He denied the charges, telling the court that he comes from a poor family and had never even owned a mobile phone.
Munir’s family have described him as a kind, simple young man who loves fishing. Concerns for his fate, and that of the three juveniles, follow the reelection last week of Saudi Arabia to the UN Human Rights Council.
Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s most prolific executioners, and recent executions in the Kingdom have included juveniles and people who were arrested in relation to protests.
Research last year by human rights organization Reprieve found that, of those identified as facing execution in Saudi Arabia, some 72% were sentenced to death for non-violent alleged crimes, while torture and forced ‘confessions’ were common.
Commenting, Maya Foa, a director at Reprieve, said:
“Munir Adam’s appalling case illustrates how the Saudi authorities are all too happy to subject the most vulnerable people to the swordman’s blade – including juveniles and people with disabilities. Like so many others, Munir was arrested for allegedly attending protests, and tortured into a ‘confession’ – he was beaten so badly that he lost his hearing. It’s a scandal that Munir now faces beheading on the basis of a bogus statement that he has since recanted. Saudi Arabia’s close allies – including the UK – must urge the Kingdom to release Munir, along with juveniles and others who were sentenced to death for protesting.”
This report prepared by Reprieve.