It was Malala Yousafazi, who said: “We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced.” Today we have the opportunity to speak up and denounce the most heinous crimes of all – those committed against children.
Because our laws only have the power to protect and deter when they are applied and implemented absolutely – regardless of one’s status or station; is it not therefore our collective duty to rise against those who seek to defile and defy our laws, for they imagine themselves above all judgement?
Can we afford to remain silent when our laws are tossed to the wind and ignored, for certain powers chose not to be bound to those words they vow to uphold?
Today one young man, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, stands to be executed by Saudi Arabia for crimes he did not commit; on account his family dared defy the kingdom’s rule of silence. Arrested at the age of 16 by the Saudi Security Forces, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, grandson to prominent Shia cleric and activist: Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr was unlawfully arrested and tortured.
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, born December 25, 1995, was a minor when the Saudi authorities arrested him for participating in a peaceful protest. He is now aged 19, and has been sentenced to execution by beheading and crucifixion.
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr was held in a juvenile prison and forced by torture to confess to crimes he did not commit. Furthermore, he was held incommunicado for 6 months and was denied legal representation.
Ali Mohammed al-Nimr has now been moved to a maximum security prison where he is in solitary confinement. There, he awaits alone, knowing that his sentence could be carried out at any minute.
Ali’s predicament is not an isolated incident – Saudi Arabia’s prisons hold many minors within their walls; and too many, just like Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, have been sentenced to death, in clear violation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
It needs to be noted that in June 27, 2012, Saudi Arabia agreed to be a state party to the CRC, when the Saudi Human Rights Commission signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
And yet, Saudi Arabia has systematically violated Ali Mohammed al-Nimr’s rights – all before the deafening silence of the United Nations.
Not only has the UN failed to fulfill its mandate by challenging those in infractions of international law, it rewarded the kingdom.
In June of 2015 Faisal Trad, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador in Geneva, was elected Chair of the UN Human Rights Council panel that appoints independent experts.
Today we wish to break the silence and denounce those crimes the international community should have acted against long ago!
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) states:
“Article 37 States Parties shall ensure that:(a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age;
(b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time;
(c) Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age. In particular, every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults unless it is considered in the child’s best interest not to do so and shall have the right to maintain contact with his or her family through correspondence and visits, save in exceptional circumstances;
(d) Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action.”
Moreover, under article 15 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), peaceful assembly is a protected right. It reads:
“Article 15: 1. States Parties recognize the rights of the child to freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly.
2. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of these rights other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”
There are a number of active petitions calling for the unconditional and immediate release of Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, including: