Saudi Arabia: NPWJ welcomes European Parliament’s resolution condemning use of death penalty in a context of widespread human rights violations

9 Jul, 2021 | Press Releases

Brussels, 9 July 2021

No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) strongly welcomes the approval by an overwhelmingly majority of the European Parliament of a resolution that condemns in the strongest terms the use of death penalty in Saudi Arabia, notably against child offenders, pointing out how this bleak picture fits into a wider context of continued human rights violations.

As highlighted by the resolution, Saudi Arabia carried out a total of 32 executions in the first half of 2021, more than the number for the whole of 2020, and has executed at least eight child offenders since first committing to abolishing the death penalty for child offenders in 2016 and despite having ratified the UN convention for the rights of the child. In particular, the European Parliament expressed outrage at the recent execution of Mustafa Hashem al-Darwish, which took place last month over charges relating to protests in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province which he took part in when he was 17. The text adopted also highlights the case of Abdullah al-Howaiti, who is still on death row pending an imminent execution for a crime allegedly committed when he was 14 years old.

NPWJ notes that the ongoing execution of child offenders further demonstrates that the Saudi regime’s ambitious claims of reform are pure rhetoric and part of a smokescreen strategy used to cover its real and truly undemocratic and repressive face. As pointed out in the European Parliament’s resolution, the pattern of harsh prison sentences handed down – in unfair trials involving confessions extracted under torture – to human rights defenders, peaceful critics and activists – including minors – is also part of a model of widespread repression aimed at silencing any form of dissent that has escalated since Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman came to power in June 2017.

Recalling the scandalous murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the many critical voices currently arbitrarily held in detention in Saudi Arabia, MEPs urge the EU and its Member States to use all available instruments to increase their support for human rights defenders working in the country and to take all necessary measures aimed at holding the authorities of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia accountable for human rights abuses.

In addition to requesting the activation of the EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Mechanism against those responsible for grave human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, NPWJ strongly welcomes that the text of the approved resolution urges the Council to suspend all EU exports of mass surveillance technology and other dual-use items to Saudi Arabia that can be used to facilitate the suppression of internal dissent and freedom of speech.

NPWJ also specifically calls on the President of the European Council and top EU officials commit to not meeting with Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and, in line with the example of President Ursula Von Der Leyen and President Joe Biden upon taking office, interact with King Salman as the Head of State, thereby signifying the EU’s disapproval of his role in the assassination of  Jamal Khashoggi and the fate of numerous other human rights activists, as well as the human rights of Saudi citizens that are under threat every day.

For further information, please contact Nicola Giovannini, Press & Public Affairs Coordinator on

Check also the special page on NPWJ’s Campaign against Silencing Dissent