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Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

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Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

Saudi juveniles now in ‘solitary confinement’ far from families, says father

Ali al-Nimr
Ali al-Nimr
The father of Ali al-Nimr, a Saudi juvenile facing execution for his role in protests, has spoken of his uncertainty and concern about the fate of his son, as it emerged Ali and a second juvenile are now being held in solitary confinement in a prison in Riyadh.

Speaking last night, Mohammed al-Nimr said that the family hadn’t seen their son since 15th September, saying: “I’m very worried now, because they’ve moved my son to a prison in Riyadh, and he’s in solitary confinement – I fear he could be executed at any moment.” He added that Ali was among several other young men sentenced to death in the wake of protests, including Dawoud al-Marhoon, whose sentence of beheading was upheld last week.

Both Ali and Dawoud were 17 when they were arrested in the wake of protests in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. Both received death sentences after being tortured into ‘confessions’ used to convict them in the country’s secretive Specialized Criminal Court. Executions are shrouded in secrecy in Saudi Arabia, and it is possible that both juveniles could now be executed at any time, without prior notification to their families. However, speaking to Al Jazeera this week, Abdallah al-Mouallimi, the Saudi permanent representative to the UN, suggested that Ali’s case was still “being reviewed in legal circles”, ahead of his execution receiving the “personal approval of the King”.

Speaking to Channel 4 last night, Ali’s father Mohammed al-Nimr said that as the UK and Saudi Arabia had a “warm relationship”, he hoped that interventions by the British government would save his son. Prime Minister David Cameron has said the government has raised Ali’s case with the Saudi authorities; however, the Ministry of Justice has faced criticism over its ongoing bid to provide services to the Saudi prison system, which would be responsible for carrying out Ali and Dawoud’s executions.

Concerns over the UK’s position come amid growing calls for firmer interventions from close allies of Saudi Arabia, such as the UK and the US. Yesterday, the European Parliament passed a resolution that called on member states – including the UK – to “deploy all their diplomatic tools and make every effort to immediately stop the execution” of Ali and others arrested at protests.

Commenting, Kate Higham, caseworker at human rights organization Reprieve, said: “Saudi Arabia’s plans to kill Ali and Dawoud are appalling, and have rightly caused an international outcry. Now these two juveniles – who have been through a shocking ordeal of torture and unfair trials – have been disappeared to solitary confinement, far from their families, who have no idea what the next few days could bring. We can only imagine how terrified they must be. Countries like the UK and the US, who count the Saudis among their closest allies, must listen to Ali’s father and urge a halt to these executions. Britain’s Ministry of Justice must also urgently call off its bid to provide services to the Saudi prison service that will carry out these executions.”

Mohammed al-Nimr's comments were made to Channel 4 and the BBC in interviews broadcast last night. They can be viewed here and here.

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