04 November 2005 :a 14-year-old Egyptian boy faces execution in Saudi Arabia after a flawed trial in which he was convicted for the murder of another child, Human Rights Watch said. Following a seriously flawed trial, Ahmad al-D. was sentenced to death in July for the murder of three-year old Wala’ `Adil `Abd al-Badi` in Dammam in April 2004. The families of both children are Egyptian nationals living in Saudi Arabia. Wala’s parents have refused to accept blood money (diya) from Ahmad’s family, and Ahmad remains on death row in a juvenile detention facility in Dammam.
“Executing one child for the killing of another would only compound the tragedy,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “King Abdullah should uphold Saudi Arabia’s international legal obligations by commuting this death sentence.”
Saudi Arabia has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits capital punishment for offenses committed by individuals under 18 at the time of the crime and protects the rights of all children accused or convicted of crimes.
Saudi Arabia stated in its 2004 report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child that the “Islamic Shariah in force in the Kingdom never imposes capital punishment on persons who have not attained their majority” and that “a juvenile is defined under the Detention Regulation and the Juvenile Homes’ Regulation of A.H. 1395 (1975) as every human being below the age of 18”.
At every stage of the investigation, detention, trial and sentencing, the Saudi authorities violated Ahmad’s due process rights and well as international legal protections for children. He had no legal assistance or representation during interrogation, detention and trial. He told the Saudi online newspaper al-Yaum al-Elektroni that he confessed only after police questioned him for the third time because “my strength dwindled and I lacked the capacity to refuse.” He said that while in pre-trial solitary confinement for three months he “cried from fear and loneliness.”
Although he was only 13 at the time of the murder, the court tried and sentenced Ahmad as an adult, based on its assessment of the coarseness of his voice and the appearance of pubic hair.