Check against delivery!
President, Honourable Members,
The European Union is unequivocally opposed to the use of capital punishment in all cases and without exception. It is a cruel and inhumane punishment, which fails to act as a deterrent and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity. We remain concerned about the continued use of the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.
According to our sources, in 2019, 184 people were executed in Saudi Arabia. A lower number, 27, were executed last year, partially due to an informal moratorium on executions for drug related crimes. But each and every execution is unacceptable.
In April 2020, a Royal Decree expanded the provisions of a 2019 law setting the age of minors at 18 years and exempting minors from death penalty for most crimes.
Both the informal moratorium on executions for drug related crimes and the adoption of the Royal Decree were steps in the right direction. However, more is needed. The Royal Decree does not cover all categories of criminal offences committed by juveniles and it should be expanded. The imposition of the death penalty on an individual who was a child at the time of the alleged crime goes against internationally accepted minimum standards.
We have seen the commuting of death sentences for some juveniles who had been convicted to death.
The European Union Special Representative for Human Rights [Eamon Gilmore] has raised the case of Abdullah al-Howaiti and other juveniles with the Saudi Human Rights Commission and with the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The European Union deeply regrets the execution of Mustafa Hashem al-Darwish and the European Union Special Representative for Human Rights [Eamon Gilmore] has publicly conveyed this regret. Worryingly, it brings the number of people executed in Saudi Arabia this year to 27, the same number executed in 2020. We have seen conflicting reports about the age when Mustafa Hashem al-Darwish committed the alleged crimes for which he was executed.
The European Union will continue to consistently reiterate its principled position against the use of death penalty in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and advocate for a complete de facto moratorium, as a first step towards a formal and full abolition of the death penalty.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-208757