Legal Opinion and Appeal

The Marangopoulos Foundation for Human Rights (MFHR) feels obliged to draw your attention to the well-known case of the 21 year old Saudi Arabian Ali Mohammed Baqir al-Nimr who was sentenced to death by the Saudi Specialized Criminal Court for actions – punished under national law – committed when he was 17, i.e. a minor. The sentence is bound to be executed at any timesoon.

We must add that the ways of execution, according to international media, are beheading and crucifixion, methods that constitute per se terrible forms of torture. It is well-known that the prohibition, without any exception, of torture is part of jus cogens. In 1997, Saudi Arabia ratified the UN Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and as a consequence is bound by it.

It is important to stress the fact that the UN Convention on the rights of the child, which this country has ratified in 1996, prohibits every country from imposing the death penalty or life imprisonment for offences committed by persons below the eighteen years of age (art 37 a). Both the sentencing of Ali al-Nimr to death and his potential execution constitute serious violations of the Convention on the rights of the child, for which Saudi Arabia is internationally liable before all the contracting states, as well as before the international community as a whole.

In fact, Ali not only did not commit the alleged “illegal” actions, but in essence he was sentenced because he participated in protests, thus exercising and reinforcing the fundamental human right of freedom of assembly. This right is guaranteed both by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (art. 20) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (art. 21) and therefore all UN member states are obliged to respect and protect it. It is worth noting that Saudi Arabia is a founding member of the UN.

Moreover, we should mention that according to the joint statement by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and the Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of Child, further violations have been found regarding this case. More specifically, Ali was subjected to torture during his arrest and detention in order to confess, while his guaranteed right to a fair trial was also violated.

The MFHR joins the statement of the three UN independent experts and addresses to you an urgent appeal to make a public statement disapproving the imposition of the death penalty to the 21 year old Ali and to demand that the relevant judgment by a court of this country is quashed and that he is immediately liberated.

Athens, 2 October 2015

The President of the MFHR The Secretary General of the MFHR


Em. Professor and f. Rector of


f. President of the Hellenic National Commission of Human Rights

Antonis Bredimas

Em. Professor University of Athens