Saudi Arabia abolishes capital punishment for minors

Saudi Arabia on Sunday ended the death penalty for crimes committed by minors after effectively abolishing floggings as the kingdom seeks to blunt criticism over its human rights record.
The reforms underscore a push by de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to modernise the ultra-conservative kingdom.
The death penalty has been eliminated for those convicted of crimes committed while they were minors, Human Rights Commission president Awwad Alawwad said in a statement, citing a royal decree.
“Instead, the individual will receive a prison sentence of no longer than 10 years in a juvenile detention facility,” the statement said.
The decree is expected to spare the lives of at least six men who are on death row.
They were accused of taking part in anti-government protests during the Arab Spring uprisings while they were under the age of 18.
United Nations human rights experts made an urgent appeal to Saudi Arabia last year to halt plans to execute them.
“This is an important day for Saudi Arabia,” said Awwad Alawwad. “The decree helps us in establishing a more modern penal code.”
The kingdom has one of the world’s highest rates of execution, with suspects convicted of terrorism, homicide, rape, armed robbery and drug trafficking facing the death penalty.

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