(Reprieve) – King Salman of Saudi Arabia has appointed his son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince and heir to the throne in an attempt to deflect criticism of his increasingly brutal regime.
The new crown prince has repeatedly defended the abuses of his father, including the mass execution of 47 people in January 2016. The crown prince, then minister of defence, claimed that all those killed were “terrorists” who were executed following fair trials. In fact, they included people arrested for simply attending a peaceful protest and convicted on the basis of false confessions extracted through torture. Those killed included Ali al-Ribh, who was just 17 at the time of his execution.
There is now great concern about three young pro-democracy protesters who could be executed at any moment on King Salman’s orders. Ali al-Nimr, Dawoud al-Marhoon and Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher were all juveniles when arrested.
Prince Mohammed’s record has also come under fire for presiding over the Saudi intervention in Yemen as defence minister since 2015.
Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve, said:
“This is an attempt by an ageing dictator to fool the world into believing he is prepared to change. The reality is Prince Mohammed has stood alongside and publicly defended the King as young men have been tortured and executed for peacefully protesting while he has led the internationally condemned intervention in Yemen. Change will only come if the Crown Prince puts an end to the execution of juveniles, otherwise this is little more than routine spin to distract from the gravest human rights abuses.”
This report prepared by Reprieve.