On 7 April 2022, the Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia ratified the death sentence issued against Bahraini citizens, Jaafar Sultan (30) and Sadiq Thamer (32). The two men have exhausted their legal remedies and are at risk of imminent execution. Their lives are now in the hands of the Saudi King who can ratify their execution at any moment.
The death sentences against the two men are related neither to the Saudi penal code nor the Sharia law. The sentence is based upon Taazeer – the judge’s personal opinion on what punishment should be implemented. If the executions take place, this will be a clear breach of Saudi domestic laws as well as international laws. The State has backtracked on its previous statement that it will refrain from punishment if no explicit reference is made in the penal code or Quran (Alhad).
● On 7 October 2021, the Specialized Criminal Court in Saudi sentenced Thamer and Sultan to death after an unfair trial; neither received the right to adequately defend themselves in court.
● On 11 January 2022, the sentences were upheld by the Court of Appeal.
● On 31 May 2016, the two men were sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia by a
Bahraini Court, on the basis of similar charges. The Court also stripped them of their citizenship.
● Since their arrest in Saudi on 8 May 2015, the men have been subjected to human rights violations, including enforced disappearance, torture, and being forced to certify coerced statements.
26 January 2022 – UN Special Rapporteurs Communication
● On 26 January 2022, the United Nations special rapporteurs sent a letter to the government of Saudi Arabia, calling on it to immediately halt the execution of death sentences against both Jaafar Sultan and Sadiq Thamer. The following allegations were noted:
○ Being held incommunicado for several months,
○ Being held in solitary confinement for one hundred days (Thamer)
○ Being forced to sign incriminating confessions.
○ Having no access to a lawyer until after the trial began.
● The rapporteurs noted that if the allegations made by Sultan and Thamer are correct the they “were sentenced to death without due process and fair trial”, “did not have access to a lawyer upon their and could not resort to any remedy to challenge the lawfulness of their detention”, “were subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and were forced to sign a confession under torture”, stating that the imposition of the death sentence would be an “arbitrary killing”.
24 March 2022 – Saudi Government’s response:
● In its response, published on 24 March 2022, the Saudi government failed to adequately respond to the questions raised.
○ There is no indication of an investigation into torture allegations
○ There is a failure to illustrate that the men were not subjected to enforced disappearance