Miss Mabrouk of Egypt

Check the archives too - a lot of good stuff to enjoy. Me myself? Off to new adventures in the blogosphere, if time permits.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

KSA to Execute 14 Year Old Egyptian Boy

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 says.

Neither the Saudi nor Egyptian government has responded to letters on the case that Human Rights Watch sent several weeks ago.

Ahmad al-D. was sentenced to death in July for the murder of three-year old Wala Adil Abd al-Badi in the city of 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 from Ahmad’s family. Ahmad remains on death row.

Saudi Arabia has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which prohibits capital punishment for offences committed by individuals under 18.

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.”

Sentence Based on Pubic Hair

The Saudi authorities violated Ahmad’s due process rights and well as international legal protections for children at every stage of the investigation, detention, trial and sentencing. He had no legal assistance or representation. Press and police accounts throw into question his psychological stability during this period and his ability to participate in his own defence.

Ahmad 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.

Children can benefit from adult provisions, such as the right to work where it is not hazardous or does not interfere with their right to education, but they may not be used to deny individuals under 18 rights guaranteed to them in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The court also reportedly refused his family’s request for a psychological exam that could have helped to establish diminished legal culpability, despite press accounts and statements by Saudi officials that point to a deeply troubled child in need of care and rehabilitation rather than an adult who is fully responsible for his actions.

No Help from Egypt

The Egyptian consulate reportedly has made little effort to protect Ahmad’s due process rights or to intercede with Wala’s family in Saudi Arabia, although both families are Egyptian.

In a letter to the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Human Rights Watch on September 22 urged the foreign minister to make a formal request that King Abdullah commute the death sentence. The letter also urged Egyptian consular officials to visit Ahmad regularly during his detention to monitor his well-being and ensure that his rights are protected. Consular officials should also assist settlement talks between the families and, should facilitate a diya – blood money - or other settlement. Egypt has not replied to the letter.

On September 22, Human Rights Watch wrote to King Abdullah urging him to commute Ahmad’s sentence to a punishment consistent with his age and culpability and to state publicly that Saudi Arabia does not impose the death penalty for offences committed by persons under 18 at the time of the crime. The KSA has not replied to the letter.

Link to Human Rights Watch. Hat-tip: Sabbah

Next time a foreign politician or TV-presenter slips and imply that this is not the ‘civilized world’ and the honourable Amr Moussa or Hosni Mubarak freaks out on live TV that this is where civilization began and no one should come and teach us about ‘their’ values of Human Rights, remember this story and the support they didn’t’ give this boy who is on death row in a country who didn’t bother to follow its own laws or give him a fair trial.

And by all means, write to Robert Fisk and ask how he will incorporate this in his rants about how the west has no moral authority to lecture Arabs about Human Rights. Write also to the family of the dead 3-year old and offer your condolences and ask what good they think they are doing by not accepting blood money and have Ahmad killed. Did they ask themselves that, what good they are doing? Or is it just about the dark desire of revenge? Did not God teach us otherwise? How can they choose to live in a country that is claiming to be the closest to a home on the earth that God has and at the same time so profoundly overlook what God and the Prophet (insert blessing) have told them?

The HRW made the letters to KSA and Egypt public a few days ahead of the Eid holy-days. Will the King and the President meet the challenge? Will the religious community demand that they step in to save his life? If not, what does it make them? Just asking.