Update: Mustafa al-Darwish was executed on 15 June 2021. By carrying out this execution the Saudi Arabian authorities have displayed a deplorable disregard for the right to life. He is the latest victim of Saudi Arabia’s deeply flawed justice system which regularly sees people sentenced to death after grossly unfair trials based on confessions extracted through torture.
In response to the news that Mustafa al-Darwish could face imminent execution after his case was referred to the Presidency of State Security following the Supreme Court upholding his death sentence, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Lynn Maalouf said:
“Saudi Arabia’s authorities must immediately halt all plans to execute Mustafa al-Darwish who was convicted on charges of participation in anti-government riots and sentenced to death after a deeply flawed trial based on a so-called ‘confession’ obtained through torture. Time is rapidly running out to save his life.
“Use of the death penalty is an abhorrent violation of the right to life in all circumstances. Going ahead with this execution will greatly undermine Saudi Arabia’s recent progress on use of the death penalty which saw an 85% drop in executions in the Kingdom in 2020.
Use of the death penalty is an abhorrent violation of the right to life in all circumstances.Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International
“International human rights law strictly prohibits the use of the death penalty for people who were under 18 years old at the time of the crime. Given that the official charge sheet does not specify the exact month the alleged crimes took place, Mustafa al-Darwish could have been either 17 or 18 at the time.
“Instead of putting Mustafa al-Darwish to death the authorities must immediately quash his conviction and order a fair re-trial of his case.”
In the last week of May 2021, Mustafa al-Darwish’s case was referred to the Presidency of State Security. In the absence of transparent information around judicial processes, it is Amnesty International’s assessment that this referral could signal his imminent execution as soon as the King ratifies his death sentence.
Mustafa al-Darwish, 26, was arrested in May 2015 for his alleged participation in riots between 2011 and 2012. During his detention, he was placed in solitary confinement and held incommunicado for six months and denied access to a lawyer until the beginning of his trial two years later, violating his right to a fair trial. In March 2018 he was sentenced to death by the Specialized Criminal Court on a string of charges including “participation in armed rebellion against the rulers, blocking roads and sowing discord”; “forming… an armed terrorist network and firing at security officials” and “seeking to disrupt national cohesion through his participation in more than 10 riots.”
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence, or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used to carry out the execution.