The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has banned the death sentence for minors, its state-backed Human Rights Commission said in a statement on Sunday as the country seeks to blunt criticism over its human rights record.
The death penalty was eliminated for those convicted of crimes committed while they were minors, Human Rights Commission president Awwad Alawwad said in a statement, citing a royal decree.
Going forward, the individual would rather be sentenced to prison for a period of not more than 10 years at a juvenile detention facility.
The decree helps in establishing a more modern penal code and demonstrates the kingdom’s commitment to following through on key reforms across all sectors of our country.” Awwad Alawwad said.
Capital punishment for crimes committed by people under the age of 18 runs contrary to the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child – which Saudi Arabia has ratified.
Under the new rules, the lives of six men from the country’s minority Shiite community could be spared.
Human rights organization Amnesty International lists Saudi Arabia as one of the world’s most prolific executioners, after Iran and China. In its latest report, it said the kingdom had executed 184 people in 2019, including at least one person charged with a crime committed as a minor.